World famous rocks stolen from Portrush

Published Friday, 11 July 2014
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Sixteen pieces of rock have been stolen from a world renowned Co Antrim nature reserve.

World famous rocks stolen from Portrush
An image of the damaged rocks on the north coast. (© UTV)

It is believed the stolen rocks contained hugely significant examples of ammonite fossils, a now extinct group related to squids.

Some geologists regard the rocks at Portrush as the single most important geological locality in the world.

The site, which is also an Area of Special Scientific Interest, is world-renowned for its role 200 years ago in understanding how certain types of rocks were formed.

The sedimentary rock dates back to the Jurassic age, but had been altered to look like basalt by the later development of the Portrush Sill, a huge mass of igneous rock that the town is now built on.

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said that the reasons behind the theft are unclear - but the rock samples may have been taken for research purposes, for commercial sale or for a private collection.

"I am extremely annoyed at the thoughtlessness of the person or people who have damaged the Nature Reserve at Portrush.

"Their selfishness has spoiled the experience of other visitors to this important site, some of whom come from overseas specially to visit it. I expect members of the public to respect this Reserve and other aspects of our natural heritage and hope that anyone with information on this theft will contact the PSNI or Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA)."

Because of its historical importance Portrush National Nature Reserve has become a place of 'pilgrimage' for geologists and an important educational site for geology students.

Mark H Durkan, Environment Minister

"The damage caused by the thieves will mean that visitors to the Reserve will be hard-pressed to locate the fossils which made it famous. The professional geological community will be outraged at what has happened here."

He said: "The fossils themselves tend to be of poor quality and are of little commercial value. Their importance lies in the false impression that they gave of fossils in igneous rock."

The Minister said that the PSNI will be asked to investigate.

© UTV News
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9 Comments
Laura in Belfast wrote (138 days ago):
To james in portglenone, get a life and talk about the matter the discussion is about instead of mocking people who may not have had as good an education as you obviously think you have had. Remember you are no better than anyone else, no matter what you think
Robert in San Diego wrote (138 days ago):
My outrage is tempered by the reality that this outcrop is apparently being naturally eroded by wave action. There was an outcrop on a beach in my county that had very interesting fossils and amber (that was protected from collection) but in just a few years, it has all been eroded away. Nothing was collected or preserved, so now we have nothing. My grandchildren only have my stories as they play in the sand where once there was an outcrop.
Daniel in Portrush wrote (138 days ago):
Only rocks? Sounds like thats what some people have between their ears!
Brian in Belfast wrote (138 days ago):
They're only rocks.
James in Portglenone wrote (138 days ago):
Does UTV not have a standard primary 6 spelling test to check that you can spell basic words such as ridiculous and seriously before you are allowed to contribute to its discussion forums - obviously not !
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