Chesil Beach

Chesil Beach, sometimes called Chesil Bank, in Dorset, southern England is one of three major shingle structures in Britain. Its toponym is derived from the Old English ceosel or cisel, meaning “gravel” or “shingle”.

The beach is often identified as a tombolo, although research into the geomorphology of the area has revealed that it is in fact a barrier beach which has “rolled” landwards, joining the mainland with Portland Bill, giving the appearance of a tombolo. The shingle beach is 29 kilometres (18 mi) long, 200 metres (660 ft) wide and 15 metres (50 ft) high. The beach and the Fleet are part of the Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the location for a book, On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan.

At the eastern end of the beach at the village of Chiswell, against the cliffs of the Isle of Portland, the beach curves round sharply to form Chesil Cove. This part of the beach protects the low-lying village from flooding. Westwards the shingle forms a straight line along the coast, enclosing the Fleet, a shallow tidal lagoon.

The beach provides shelter from the prevailing winds and waves for the town of Weymouth and the village of Chiswell, which would otherwise probably not exist

Varying with the Bank’s unbroken increase in height, to 14.7 metres (48 ft), above mean high water, the size of the flint and chert shingle varies from pea-sized at the north-west end (by West Bay) to orange-sized at the south-east end (by Portland). It is said that smugglers who landed on the beach in the middle of the night could judge “exactly where they were” by the size of the shingle.

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  1. Olly, 5 years ago

    You missed off the fact that any footage of the famous bouncing bomb developed by Barnes Wallis was probably filmed here (He also filmed in Kent but only small amounts) so in the UK Chesil Beach is famous for being the testing ground for the bomb

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