Not quite one million pebbles

Matthew Chatfield
Latest posts by Matthew Chatfield (see all)

Through The Ranger’s inbox this week came an appeal from a visitor to Southsea Beach, Hampshire. A gentleman was on the beach with his granddaughter when the young lady found a curious pebble.

This intriguing object was the cause of much electronic debate up and down the Solent, as it was passed around the Solent Forum. A mystery to be sure – a seemingly normal pebble bearing a stamped number. Eventually, some clever Solent Forumer unearthed a link to an arts project which started around about 1998 called One Million Pebbles. Artist Pete Codling undertook a city-wide art project in Portsmouth, making clay pebbles with the public. They were personalised, number stamped and fired in a kiln. Then they were thrown into the sea at Southsea beach for others to find in the future… evidently that bit of it works. Pete Codling said on his website in 2005:

I have reached half a million so far.

It’s not clear whether or not Pete is still making the pebbles (he was, until 2011 – see below), but what a nice idea, and an interesting puzzle for a child on the beach, her grandfather, and a host of bored local government officers.

Update: Pete Codling reads The Ranger’s Blog – see his comments below from 2010.

Update: Pete said in 2016 “To see more info and imagery visit theΒ One Million Pebbles Facebook page and see the growing archive of those found on the beach.”

Matthew Chatfield

Uncooperative crusty. Unofficial Isle of Wight cultural ambassador. Conservation, countryside and the environment, with extra stuff about spiders.

73 thoughts on “Not quite one million pebbles

  • 31st March, 2014 at 4:47 pm
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    When I went to southsea on the 30th March 2014 I was looking for some speacial stones and shells I found the clay stone. The digits are 296971. I am very proud to find this because it made me and my family curious so we went online and found this information. Olivia age 9

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  • 3rd January, 2014 at 12:42 pm
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    Hi
    Was walking on southsea beach, portsmouth on xmas day and found 2 of the numbered pebbles πŸ™‚ 257921 ( red clay) and 373736 ( white clay) if there is someone who recognises their unique number i will be happy to reunite him/her with their pebbles πŸ™‚

    Kristine

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    • 8th October, 2020 at 4:59 pm
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      Just found two rocks numbered: 307205 & 269171

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  • 12th August, 2013 at 10:35 pm
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    I was so amazed today when on my, and my two nephews, birthday’s I found on southsea beach a pebble with a number on it! I was so taken aback, it is something that you would never expect to see in your lifetime let alone on your 31st birthday! May I say a great thank you to Peter Codling for this ingenious idea it is truly a work of art as I have glued the stone as part if a seaside memoir to a mirror for my young nephews. Thank you

    ( 304616)

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  • 9th August, 2013 at 1:18 pm
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    Today my wife found one of these pebbles whilst sat on Southsea beach.Numbered 257137.

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  • 5th August, 2013 at 12:21 am
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    My niece found one on southsea beach whilst visiting us from Skye. Will post number ASAP! Do the numbers link to specific people? Would be great to find original owner.

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  • 20th July, 2013 at 5:54 pm
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    Found one stone 097373 on southsea beach. Just now

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  • 16th July, 2013 at 3:12 pm
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    FOUND STONE 382624 ON SOUTHSEA BEACH 14/07/2013

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  • 1st June, 2013 at 10:26 am
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    My daughter has found one yesterday on southsea beach whike chucking stones into the water.

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  • 4th January, 2013 at 10:06 am
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    My oldest daughter found a pebble with numbers.
    We were so interested.
    The number was: 39936b

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  • 21st July, 2012 at 4:22 pm
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    Hi. We live in Southsea and I can remember our two little boys and their Grandma, making pebbles many years ago, and today, for the very first time we found one! The boys are now 19 and 22! I knew exactly what it was of course, but was so thrilled to find one! The number is 430154. Thank you Pete Codling for doing this project. Brilliant idea and such fun!

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  • 12th June, 2012 at 7:54 pm
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    I found 335627 yesterday at southsea. Really baffled me but glad to have found out where it’s came from. Very cool!

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  • 20th May, 2012 at 6:08 pm
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    I found two numbered stones: 206123 which has good set of fnger prints embedded into it and 316010 which has some sort of design on the reverse side. I also found a stone with three palm trees etched into it. This was on May 19 and 20, 2012.

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    Hi found a stone #115753 on the right side of the pier this afternoon (26/02/12).
    I’d never heard of such a project and when I found it I wondered what story it had to tell. After searching the internet I finally found out what it’s story was.
    What a good idea to chuck some stones out and see how far they travel or if and when they are found, hope you reach your 1million goal, and thankyou for adding mystery to our afternoon.

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    • 28th May, 2012 at 4:29 pm
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      I have now found 44 pebbles along the stretch of beach near the Pyramids. I don’t know what to do with them as later this year I’m going to Asia for about three years.

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    I found a pebble today! it has a smiley face on it! It made me smile all day long! πŸ˜€

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    My partner found number 140738 on Southsea Beach end of August. Put search on internet where we found and as you can see, found what it was straight away. Great Idea. Have displayed at home. Cheers.

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    I found one of these stones today near the pier #439524…what a great project and I was very excited to find it! My mum helped me find this website and we were googling for ages trying to find out about it. Mine has a Cross on the front and I thought it was lovely. It now has lots of little stones in the cross itself and I’m going to hold onto this forever.

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    My son found #315316 on 24/8/11 on Southsea beach near the boating lake.He was so excited to find something so interesting and asked me,”Does God number all of the stones he make?”

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    hi, on a recent visit to southsea beach and castle i also found a pebble with a number on it. and i kept it! mine is 006633.

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    Found no 22, 434. On 17/08/2011. Between pier and 1st shelter. Very intriguing conversation down pub. Fantastic idea.

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    206146 – Gilkicker point, Gosport. 13/07/11

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    very excited to have discovered the origin of the two pebbles i found recently on Southsea beach on the last bank holiday monday (may 2011)
    Since finding them on the beach, not one but two in the same day on different ends of the beach, I have been trying to find out what the numbers meant.Being an artist myself, I was delighted to find that they are part of an art project.
    I have not yet decided what to do with them, whether I keep them or take them to Portugal with me later in the summer where my husband’s parents live to see if they find their way back to Southsea .Brilliant!

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    I found this pebble today with my auntie (14/4/11). My auntie already knew about the project so it was no mystery to us, but we really enjoyed finding one (serial no. 121940) great project! πŸ™‚

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    My daughter Sara found a pebble with 36312 on it 10m South of the cafe on the East side of Southsea pier last week. Great fun thinking about what the nunbers meant; but now we know.

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    Found in 2008 one. Number 232527. And on the other side is a smile! =)

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    On a lovely sunny walk 12/2/11 along Stokes Bay,Gosport we found number 322203,this little pebble has travel some distance.

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    my little boy found pebble 377383 whilst helping daddy smooth over the shingle drive of our new house, we live in lovedean only a few miles from southsea, He was sooo intrigued and I vaugely remembered seeing something about the numbered pebbles in the evening news so have just checked it out and found you! v cool.

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    Hi,I found 2 pebbles one with ‘Rosie Harvey’ etched into it – No. 200508 + 449045.

    A friend and I noticed 2/3 on the beach last month. Went back to find them again this week.

    Interesting project – well done!

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    I knew there was something Special about this Pebble! πŸ™‚
    No. 480167. Sir Pebble’ot
    Found by the big blocks east of South Parade Pier

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    I found 3 stones on Southsea beach on August 30th 2010. One had name Claire on it with an animal on the other side. The number was 143309. The other two just had numbers. They are 027863 and 129268. They are now with me in Kent so won’t be putting them back in the sea.

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    • 14th June, 2012 at 8:21 pm
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      We have been walking along the shore for the last few months now and started finding numbered stones/pebbles. We didn’t know what they were but kept them out of interest until we found this web site. So far we have found 18 all with numbers and some messages as well. It makes a nice walk along the shore an exciting one. I found a big pebble today (14/06/12) with an inscription “1997 Steve & Carol.” Another one awhile ago was inscripted with “Casey Smith born 19…(cannot read the date).

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    I’ve really enjoyed reading these comments. I’m doing a study of this project and would really like to know the numbers found by Karen and why people like to keep them. Should we have a pebble convention to bring them all together again???!!! Pete, what do you think?

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    Hey!!!!!! Found 5 on the beach at Southsea. We had no idea what it was about but figured there was something about it on the net and here it is. We found 2 that are personalised but only one is readable with “REG 1999” engraved on. Others have finger marks on and another with a hole in it. This is a really cool thing you did keep it up. We will throw them into the sea next time we go so that others will have the chance. Hopefully they will be as intrigued as we were.
    The serial numbers were, 242946, 267834, 234476, 244127 and 212059.

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    Wow! I really, really like this idea. We found loads of these pebbles on the beach at Southsea after a stormy week; that was a couple of years ago. We’ve just visited again today and found another one. I’ve been pondering what on earth they could be for ages and ages, and after finding the first pebbles two years ago, I looked into it straigh away, but couldn’t find a thing. Finding another one on the beach today reminded me again to search, and hence, my comment on here now. What an amazing project. Are you interested to know the numbers of the pebbles we found?

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    hi i found one of you pebbles yesterday 01/7/2010 stamped 041427 and what looks like a pound coin impression on only took me 1 day of searching the net to find where it came from , cool project pete ROCK ON !!!!

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    Found #308454 yestersday (24th April 10) on southsea beach.

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    Hi,

    My Husband and my 2 year old son found one of the pepples (numbered 319207)with a face on it at Stokes bay Gosport last weekend. We have now taken back to our home which is full of curiosities in North Hampshire!

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    hi found one 2007 number 378061

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    I found number 276428. this is the second one i have found, but lost the other! thankyou for solving my mystery =o)

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    Hey guys my son found a pebble on southsea beach today 23rd August I knew what it was as my sister found one about 2 months ago I never thought wed find one tho so Yay. Serial number is #183415.

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    found one of your pebbles today – well at least my wife did – says its from 21/08/99 so nearly 10 years ago and has the name vicky on it – serial number 266361

    It was just by the lifeguards office along from the pier so not gone far!!

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    Hi all we found a numbered pebble on southsea beach near to Pyramids on August 14th 2009- numbered 449770 ! mystery for a weekend then we found this site and we are no aware of when and where it came from !!

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    Hi i found one on saturday 194020.

    Can you find out who made this stone anywhere.

    ta vicky

    The Ranger responds: Yes. The answer is in the article.

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    My sister found a pebble on Southsea Beach in July 2008, number 295113. It is great to know that someone has spent time making these stones for people to find, it took us a while to unravel the mystery. It was great finding one and now spend our time when we sit on the beach trying to find another one or two. Thankyou Pete.

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    Oops forgot. Mum was born in Pompey!

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    My mum, dad and I found one today on Southsea beach by the pier. #364023. We live in Oxford and popped down for the day. We found it really curious and it really bugged dad. Then we decided to look it up on the internet! And here we are.

    What a great project. Well done Pete.

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    hello all of you who have found a pebble or two on southsea beach. i am still firing some of the the clay pebbles and then throwing them in the sea. i reached half a million with hundred of thousands of people having taken part. There is no funding to complete so it has continues as a labour of love but it is a great boost when i hear they have been found and inspired people with alternative ideas and memories of portsmouth. if you find one, you can do with it as you wish or return it for others to find in the future. many have ended up around the world as people have transplanted them on holidays and travels.
    always happy to discuss the project. rock on x

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    • 14th June, 2012 at 8:33 pm
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      Hi Pete

      I have just posted a message – but don’t think it has been displayed on this site. My partner and I have spent many hours on Southsea beach because we love looking for shells. We started finding pebbles and stones with numbers on a few months ago and took them home because they were curious. We did not know the history of them until one day a lady was watching me looking along the shore and asked if I was looking for numbered stones. She then told me about this website. Your project was such a good idea. So far I have found 18 of them. We travel quite alot (especially in the Middle East and Europe) so I will take some of them and distribute them in the seashores abroad. It will be so interesting to find out if other people fine them. Thanks again Pete – such a great idea and labour of love which has pleased many people.

      Reply
  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    wow.. he really likes rocks

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    I’ve got one of these pebbles… number 442780. Jamie

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  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm
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    Maybe more interesting than one million blooms….

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