This week’s objects are samples of the enterprising nature of fossil collectors, cashing in on the growing number of visitors who began flocking to Whitby in the 19th century.

The collectors would carve snakes heads on to the ammonites they found on the shore and sell them as ‘snake-stones’ to unsuspecting tourists.

This follows from the popular story concerning Saint Hilda, founder of our abbey which tells how, when Hilda came to Whitby, the town and cliffs were overrun with snakes; Hilda picked one up and threw it over the cliff, where it curled up and turned to stone.

Find out more about our fossil collection and watch a video introduced by our geology curator, Roger Osborne click here.