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The quarry at Tillywhandland is one of five quarries in the Forfar area that comprise the ‘Turin Hill’ locality. Fossil collecting has occurred at the quarries since the 1700’s, with collectors such as Hugh Miller visiting the site. Although all five quarries are important for the fossils they have yielded, it was Tillywhandland that produced most of the fossils during these early collecting periods. The quarries all represent Lower Old Red Sandstone (Devonian) rocks from the Arbuthnott Group. They have produced many specimens of fossilised fish and plants. The ‘Turin Hill’ site is also internationally known for its eurypterids (arthropods), of which it is the type locality for five species.

A view of the sedimentary sequence at Tillywhandland. © Colin MacFadyen/SNH.

Tillywhandland quarry is dominated by a thick sequence of laminated silty shales which overlies the sandstone that was the target of the quarrymen. It is the laminated shales that contain the fossils. The rocks formed during the deposition of thick sequences of sediment into the Midland Valley region, following erosion from the mountainous regions to the northwest. The valley floor was covered by extensive river systems and lakes and alluvial fans dominated the valley walls. Although there was no terrestrial life at this time, aquatic life flourished.

The quarry is the last remaining site yielding considerable specimens of the Lower Devonian acanthodians that ‘Turin Hill’ is the type locality for. Tillywhandland itself is the type locality for Euthacanthus grandis, E. macnicoli, Parexus falcatus and Vernicomanthus uncinatus. However, Mesacanthus and Ischnacanthus are commonly found along with fish scale-bearing coprolites and the plants Parka and Zosterophyllum.

Further information:
Geological Conservation Review – site account