Archaeologists searching Rochford for remains of Darwin’s ship

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ARCHAEOLOGISTS have been searching in Rochford for the remains of a legendary ship.

Historians are looking for the remains of HMS Beagle, best known for its link to biologist Charles Darwin.

The ship ended its career as a watch vessel for the coastguard at Paglesham, Rochford.

Experts have been searching the area for remains in the build up to 2020, which will mark the 200th anniversary of the ship’s launch.

Rochford will host a free exhibition next year to mark the milestone.

A team from Wessex Archaeology, searching for the final resting place of the ship, has located the original mud dock where the ship was kept.

They are now carrying out surveys and using a drone fitted with a specialist camera to search for the sunken vessel.

A second, concurrent expedition – around the northern coast of Australia – has unearthed what it believes is one of two missing anchors, as well as some copper nails and a musket ball. The items are thought to date back to 1839.

Darwin set off on the HMS Beagle in 1831 for a five-year voyage, during which he famously visited the Galapagos Islands.

After he returned to England, the ship was sent to the ‘largely unknown’ northern coast of Australia, where a town – Darwin – was subsequently named after the biologist.

Rochford Council said it would host a free, two-day event next May called: ‘Discover 2020: 200 Years of HMS Beagle’.

The council’s strategic director, Angela Hutchings, said: “It’s incredible to think that the remains of the HMS Beagle could have been lying in the mudflats at Paglesham, in the Rochford district, while her lost anchors were hidden across the other side of the globe, on the northern coast of Australia, waiting to be discovered.

“These archaeological searches and expeditions are such an exciting build-up to our event next year, which will charter the history of this ground-breaking vessel, who led the way in so many discoveries in the world of natural sciences and helped shape everything we know about the world today.”

Details of the event, planned for May 30 and 31, will be announced soon at www.discover2020.co.uk

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Charles Thomson

Chief ReporterEmail: [email protected]