About us

Matt Dale

Our firm was started in Livingston, near Edinburgh, Scotland in 1983 by Stan Wood - 'Mr Wood'.

At first, Stan supplied museums with fossils for research and display, then in 1987 the firm opened a shop, providing fossils for sale from all over the world.

The original shop is situated in the Grassmarket, at the centre of Edinburgh's historic Old Town.

Stan hired someone to look after the shop, preferring to be out in the field, and I took over as manager in 1998. I had been working with fossils in museums in Glasgow following a geology degree and museum studies post-graduate course.

I bought the business from Stan in 2006 and I'm in the shop most days. I'm helped by Nikolai and Cate, who work weekends and cover for me when I'm away buying stock.

Stan Wood

Stan was a famous fossil hunter and while he was largely self-taught, his important discoveries have given the firm an international reputation.

He discovered numerous fossil plants and over 30 new species of animals, including the world famous 'Lizzie' - Westlothiana lizziae - thought at the time to be the oldest reptile ever discovered. It's on display in the National Museum of Scotland.

Stan was an inspiring character and was still busy collecting and preparing new material until his death in September 2012. 

His finds from the start of the Carboniferous look to be the most important of his career - globally significant fossils from a time we still don't fully understand.

The photos of Matt and Stan are from an article in the Scotsman newspaper about the 25th anniversary of the shop. The photos are copyright of The Scotsman Publications Ltd and are used with their kind permission for the purpose of this website only.

Our Fossil Shop

The shop was opened at 5 Cowgatehead in 1987 and the premises had lain empty and unused for a long time. Stan - Mr Wood - told me of the work it had needed to get the place into shape and I'm glad I wasn't around at the time...

The Grassmarket is a famous part of Edinburgh's Old Town and has a rich and colourful history of its own. From 1477 to 1911 it was one of the city's main market locations and also home to the gallows used for public executions.

The Cowgate, leading into the Grassmarket, was the road used to bring in the livestock for sale. Recently, the place has had a major refurbishment and now boasts a flexible show space that hosts markets, performing arts and other activities. During the excavation work for the refurbishment, archaeologists found material which was dated to the Middle Bronze Age, between 1500 to 1300BC, so the Grassmarket has a history far exceeding previous estimates.

The area is now home to a great variety of small, independently run shops, pubs and restaurants and is a rewarding place to spend some time. It stands at the foot of Castle Rock, with the impressive form of Edinburgh Castle looming overhead, and is only a short walk from the Royal Mile, Arthur's Seat, Holyrood and Waverley Station.

There's a Google map showing the shop location on our Contact page.