Commonly found in Faringdon red gravel, belemnites were marine animals like squid or cuttlefish and they lived between the Jurassic and Cretaceous ages. Jurassic began 201 million years ago and Cretaceous ended 66 million years ago.
The fossil is of the rostrum – see diagram – which is a bone-like protusion at the end of its body.
In Britain, if you draw a line from Charmouth to Whitby, then anywhere East is an area of Cretaceous or Jurassic rocks, hence famous collecting areas for Belemnites and other fossils like Ammonites. The largest Belemnite was found in Europe and was between 4-5 metres, but normally they are around 5-6 cms.
They take their name from the Greek word ‘belemnon’ meaning Javelin or dart and were believed to have been thrown down by the Gods as thunderbolts during storms. In folklore they are sometimes called the ‘Devil’s fingers’.