Shells of the common cockle Cerastoderma edule have been analysed using Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) for a suite of elements (Pb, Cu, As, Zn and U). The samples of C. edule were obtained from four sites in the British Isles, two facing the Atlantic and two adjacent to the Irish Sea. The LA-ICP-MS technique, permits high resolution examination of the relationship between the concentrations of elements in the hard parts and that in the environment. This study shows that this bivalve can be used as a biomonitor of pollution. All four areas under investigation are affected by anthropogenic pollution, in particular Zn and Cu, and are characterized by short-term extreme pollution events. Furthermore, high levels of U are recorded from the cockles sampled from the sites adjacent to the Irish Sea, probably related to a combination of both natural and industrial effluents discharged into the area.