- The remains of British Captain Matthew Flinders have been found under a train station in London.
- Flinders was the first person to circumnavigate Australia in the early 1800’s.
- “This is a very exciting moment for Australia,” Australian High Commissioner to the UK, George Brandis said.
The remains of British Captain Matthew Flinders have been found under a train station in London.
Archaeologists working on a high-speed rail project — known as HS2 — made the discovery after identifying a well-preserved lead breastplate attached to the coffin in one of the 40,000 graves located at the site of the transport project.
“The discovery of Captain Matthew Flinders’s remains is an incredible opportunity for us to learn more about the life and remarkable achievements of this British navigator, hydrographer and scientist,” Helen Wass, HS2’s Head of Heritage said.
“Given the number of human remains at St. James’s, we weren’t confident that we were going to find him. We were very lucky that Captain Flinders had a breastplate made of lead meaning it would not have corroded. We’ll now be able to study his skeleton to see whether life at sea left its mark and what more we can learn about him.
“This discovery is particularly exciting for me as an archaeologist working on the site as Captain Matthew Flinders was the grandfather of renowned Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie, commonly known as the ‘Father of Archaeology’.”
Flinders was the first person to circumnavigate Australia in the early 1800’s.
Onboard the Reliance, Flinders charted the coastline of Australia, completing and linking together other partial surveys to provide the first complete picture of the country.
In fact, according to the State Library of New South Wales, his charts were so accurate that some are still in use to this day.
The captain died at the age of 40 — the day after the book detailing his circumnavigation of Australia, A Voyage to Terra Australis, was published.
Before now, the location of his grave was unknown after his burial site was moved following cemetery overcrowding.
In the move, his headstone was lost and many historian feared the captain’s remains had been lost forever.
“This is a very exciting moment for Australia,” Australian High Commissioner to the UK, George Brandis said.
“It is serendipitous the discovery of the remains of Matthew Flinders, one of the great early explorers, should come in the week of Australia Day”.
Watch the HS2 discovery here: