Fossil Hunting, Edwardian Style

Edwardian fossil hunters,

Our historical weekend for 2021 is come and gone.  This year we planned an exciting activity: fossil hunting, 1910s style!

Nina is a keen fossil hunter.  She’s familiar with the places in New Zealand where you can go fossil hunting.  She suggested we choose a holiday house within driving distance of one of them, and make a day of it.

Edwardian fossil hunters,

What a splendid idea!

Edwardian fossil hunters,

We planned our sporting chic outfits, with varying degrees of practicality in mind:

Edwardian fossil hunters,

I’m wildly envious of Miss K’s jodhpurs, but couldn’t justify making another outfit this year, as I’ve made so many as Scroop Pattern samples.

So while everyone else was a khaki clad adventurer, I was the slightly-out-of-place city cousin in her perky day-at-the-seaside attire:

Edwardian fossil hunters,

That was quite fine, as it turns out I’m not much of a fossil hunter.  I hate the texture of dry clay soil, hate the dirt on my hands, and got bored of poking about in about 37 seconds.

Edwardian fossil hunters,

Not a problem!  I was quite happy to be the event photographer while everyone else scrambled over hillsides and got excited about 5 million year old bits of stone shells that looked an awful lot like the significantly newer shells down on the beach a few meters away.  I was hoping for trilobites.  Turns out I was only off by a few billion years…

Edwardian fossil hunters,

I joked to my parents that I’m a bit of a genetic disappointment in my dislike of poking around in dry dirt as the daughter of farmers and the granddaughter of a noted (semi-noted?) archeologist.  My mum said “Oh, you’re not a disappointment, farmers don’t like dry dirt either!”.

Edwardian fossil hunters,

Luckily everyone else was having a fabulous time scrambling around on the clay cliffside, getting progressively higher up and giving me a delightful view of all the lace trimming on many an Ettie Petticoat.

Edwardian fossil hunters,

There were many Etties and Kilbirnie Skirts and Selina Blouses in evidence (and Rilla Corsets, somewhat less in evidence, but there nonetheless).  My friends have been very helpful pattern testers!

Edwardian fossil hunters,

It wasn’t all Scroop Patterns though.  Nina’s skirt is the Evelyn by Wearing History.  Miss K’s jodhpurs are the Mrs Depew’s pattern (it is not for the faint hearted).

Edwardian fossil hunters,

Edwardian fossil hunters,

Once we’d had enough of fossil hunting, we retired to the beach for lunch.

Edwardian fossil hunters,

We passed on lashing of gingerbeer in favour of tea.

Edwardian fossil hunters,

And what do fossil hunters eat?  Enormous pasties!  (Mushroom and leek).

Edwardian fossil hunters,

I couldn’t decide whether you should see the image where I look elegant and ladylike with my pastie, or the one where I am awkwardly chowing down on it.  Enjoy them both!

Edwardian fossil hunters,

A fabulous way to spend a day!

Edwardian fossil hunters,

And I might get to make those jodhpurs after all.  I’ve got ideas for next year’s retreat…

A huge thanks to Averil, who took all the photos featuring me, and the one featuring Nina fourth from the bottom.


  1. Julia says

    Thanks for sharing your good times with us. It’s so much fun to get a peep into something like this!

    • You’re welcome! I love sharing the joy of historical costuming – and that it doesn’t have to be big fancy planned events that you have to travel a long way to get to 🙂


    A lovely day out and great photos. All your outfits were amazing. It was good to see the outfits in action instead of just on the pattern. The scenery was fantastic. Thank you for bringing us along.

  3. And here I thought the chowing one was the elegant one, before I got to the end of the sentence. Apparently elegance is also in the eye of the beholder. 😀
    I would also hope for trilobites. What is it about trilobites that they are this sort of subconscious go-to fossil?
    Also, as a person with atopic skin, I wouldn’t be enthused about poking about in dry clay, either. I love your mom’s comeback line. 🙂 No farmers in my family as far as the eye can see, at least not biologically (though we did gain one through marriage!), but some avid gardeners. Same attitude. Poking around in nice dark soil is something I did kind of grow up doing.
    Aaand lots of pretty clothes in evidence! 🙂

  4. nofixedstars says

    looks like a fun outing with gorgeous weather, and everyone’s attire was on point.

  5. What a fun outing! It’s a great activity idea and it looks like lovely weather. Thanks for sharing your adventures!


  6. Oh my, everyone looks so fabulous! And what wonderful weather you had <3

    • Thank you! We got so lucky with the weather (you know how NZ springs can be…). Sunny but not too hot the day of we went fossil hunting, with just enough of a sea breeze to keep us cool, without keeping us perpetually clutching our hats!

  7. Belinda Stafford says

    And where do the overly bold and foolish find Mrs Depew’s jodhpurs? If you please?

  8. Lylassandra says

    What a brilliant idea! It looks like it was enormous fun.

  9. Susan says

    Lovely ladies, lovely attire, beautiful weather and scenery – but what, no photos of the fossils?? I was hoping to see what your friends discovered! Still, it looked as if a good time was had by all.

    However, your seaside excursion did remind me of some other favorites, the British mother and daughter “Northern Mudlarks”, whose similar excursions result in findings of sea glass and discarded treasures, many to be converted to beautiful handmade jewelry and other delights.

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