Archaeology breakthrough: How body of a British explorer was found beneath Euston


Headlines were made last year when the remains of Captain Matthew Flinders, the Royal Navy explorer who led the first circumnavigation of Australia, were found in Euston, London. Captain Flinders was discovered by archaeologists helping to work on the HS2 project.

However, the extent of the findings is now set to be revealed in a documentary called HS2 – The Biggest Dig, on BBC Two on Tuesday, September 22.

Captain Flinders, who was commander of HMS Investigator, was one of the great explorers of his generation and was the first European to circumnavigate Australia, beginning in 1801.

The Brit is also credited with giving Australia its name, and there are several places in the antipodean country which reference the explorer, such as Flinders Station in Melbourne, Flinders Ranges in South Australia and the town of Flinders in Victoria.

The new documentary will reveal the moment archaeologists discovered the remains of Captain Flinders, as well as the silver coffin plate and the subsequent excavation of the coffin.

While it was known that Captain Flinders was buried at St James’s Gardens Euston in 1814, the exact whereabouts of his remains was unknown.

His headstone was removed in the 1840s following the expansion of Euston station westwards into part of the burial ground, with the explorers remains lost for a subsequent 70 years.

However, experts were able to identify the remains of the explorer by the lead name plate set into the coffin lid, known as a depositum plate.

Mike Court, HS2’s Lead Archaeologist said: “It is great that we are able to showcase this incredible find as part of this documentary, exploring the discoveries being made as part of HS2’s archaeology work.

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“The ability to document this, through the intact breastplate, was particularly exciting for archaeologists working on the project.

“It is also particularly exciting as Cpt. Matthew Flinders was the grandfather of renowned Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie, commonly known as the ‘Father of Archaeology.”

Bill Locke, from Lion TV who produced the documentary said: “Being able to capture the moment that Captain Matthew Flinders’ remains were discovered at Euston was significant and has become a focal point of the second episode of the documentary.

“It allowed us to delve into his story which is of worldwide historic significance and is a fascinating part of the programme.”





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