Photo courtesy of the Shetland Museum
This striking specimen was collected by the late Robert Jamieson of Melby and donated to the Shetland Museum in 1981 (NAT 81420). The original context of the fossil is not clear but it was described as being released as a result of coastal erosion. No similar material has been observed, however, on the storm beaches at Melby. Neither has any far-travelled glacial erratic been found there.
The original source of the coral is a puzzle. A
marine coral cannot be derived from the terrestrial Old Red Sandstone basin of
Lake Orcadie. No younger sedimentary limestone occurs on Shetland. Glacial
transport from Permo-Triassic rocks found offshore in St Magnus Bay also appears
highly unlikely as these are entirely continental sandstones and conglomerates.
It seems that the coral is not of Shetland origin. Human agency is most likely
involved, especially as this is a boulder of such striking appearance.