Shoreline : Swanage Bay

Swanage, Dorset, UK
CC-BY-NC: Fay Stevens

Shorelines is a collaborative project on writing and reciting stories related to the dividing line between land and water.

Fay Stevens

Dedicated to my father Peter Stevens for the wonderful times we spend exploring the shoreline together.

Shoreline : Swanage Bay

The Jurassic Coast of Dorset is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for the ancient fossils that lay within its complex geology. This shoreline of Swanage Bay forms part of that coastline, with its distinct geology of listric fault lines, Portland stone and Wealden clay sequence of strata of soft green deposits that once formed the bed of an ancient lake.

My father lives here, a geologist who intimately knows the formation of this landscape. We often walk the shoreline together, observing the unique colours and shapes of folded and eroded rocks and the bivalve, ammonite and other fossils embedded within them. This is a shoreline not just where the land meets the sea but of where time collapses as ancient rock and extinct creatures crumble and dissolve into the liquidity of the ocean.

Today, another extraordinary sight is visible from this shoreline. As an outcome of Covid-19, large empty cruise ships moor on the stretch of water between the mainland and the Isle of Wight. These vast relics look like floating ghost cites during the day and illuminated discarded spaceships at night. I wonder how long they will stay suspended before they once again make contact with the shoreline ? I ponder on this liminality and of how a shoreline must feel to the refugees who place their lives in the hulls of fragile boats that hold the promise of new lands, where a shoreline marks the point where you leave and the place where you arrive.
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