19th century British explorer found under London station

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London, Jan 25 (IANS) The remains of explorer Captain Matthew Flinders, who first circumnavigated Australia and is credited with naming the country, have been found.

Archaeologists working on the HS2 project in a London burial ground identified Captain Flinders from among some 61,000 skeletons to be removed from St James’s Gardens, where the station for the HS2 rail route will be built .

The coffin discovered and identified by a lead breast plate placed on top of it showed the captain, who is credited with mapping the continent Down Under, was buried on July 23, 1814, the BBC reported.

The dig had begun in October and the burial near the London Euston station is one of 60 archaeological sites between London and Birmingham that were being explored prior to the construction of the 55 billion pound high-speed rail line.

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It was always known that Flinders was among the thousands of people buried at the site, which was built over when Euston station was expanded in the 19th Century but it was unclear whether his body or others would be able to be identified.

The discovery has thrilled archaeologists who were not confident they would find Captain Flinders among the 40,000 people interred there, HS2 said.

The headstone marking his final resting place was removed following the expansion of Euston Station in the 1840s, and it was thought his remains had been lost, the BBC said.

Helen Wass, HS2 head of heritage, said: “The discovery is an incredible opportunity for us to learn more about the life and remarkable achievements of this British navigator, hydrographer and scientist. Captain Flinders will be reinterred with the buried population of St James’s Gardens at a location to be announced, HS2 said.

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Flinders, who was from Lincolnshire, made several significant journeys, notably as commander of HMS Investigator. In the ship he became the first known person to navigate around the entire coast of Australia, confirming it as a continent.

He is also credited with giving Australia its name — although he was not the first to use the term, his work popularised its use.

–IANS

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