Mr Wood’s Fossils has been an Edinburgh institution since 1987. This unassuming little shop has established an international reputation for trading in high-quality fossils. The unique shop is located in the Grassmarket, close to the Royal Mile and in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle. The shop front, dominated by a large picture window, is always decked with an alluring range of items to tempt and delight.
Trilobite at Mr Wood's — Photo courtesy of Mr Wood's Fossils
Inside, glass display cases and wooden shelves hold yet more treasures. The sheer range of items on display makes this shop a wonderful place to browse, and the staff are always on hand to answer any questions you may have about their fascinating pieces. However, only a small selection of their stock is ever on display. If you are searching for something specific, then it is always worth asking.
Stan Wood, the shop’s founder, was a famous, self-taught fossil hunter who discovered over thirty new species of animal and many fossil plants. His most famous discovery was the Westlothiana lizziae (colloquially known as "Lizzie"). For some time, this was considered to be the oldest known reptile. In 1998, Matt Dale (himself a geologist and fossil hunter) became the manager of Mr Wood's Fossils, and he bought the business when Mr Wood retired. He still runs Mr Wood’s shop today with undiminished enthusiasm.
Fossils range from beautiful spiral ammonites to the perfectly preserved fossils of fish - some over one hundred and fifty million years old - and fascinating trilobites. Some of these date to the Early Cambrian period (over five hundred and twenty million years ago). They stock the teeth of dinosaurs such as Carcharodontosaurus and Spinosaurus, pieces of dinosaur coprite (fossilized dung) and fragments of dinosaur egg shells.
The name of the shop rather understates the breadth of their stock, as they do not focus entirely on fossils. As well as ammonites, trilobites and dinosaur fossils, Mr Wood’s Fossils also stocks a wide array of minerals and meteorites.
Beautifully polished citrine, opal and jet sit alongside more exotic items such as striped fluorite and the stunning patchwork of Mookaite and Seraphinite, given its name because it was thought to resemble the feathers of angels. The geodes (hollow stones lined with crystals or minerals) are particularly beautiful and remarkable.
Meteorites include pieces of rock from Mars and the moon, as well as mineral shards such as iron and pieces of famous meteorites such as the Ghubara meteorite which landed in Oman in 1954.
Mr Wood’s Fossils also has a range of beautiful jewelry featuring fossils and minerals set in sterling silver.