The BBC are running The Darwin Season, radio and television programmes to mark the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth (12th February) and the 150th anniversary of the publication of ‘On the Origin of Species’.
At 2100 GMT, on BBC Radio 4 today
Hunting the Beagle
Hunting the lost Beagle
A muddy river bank in the flat, watery landscape of southern Essex may seem an unlikely place to find one of the most important ships in scientific history.
But a combination of painstaking detective work and archaeology have convinced maritime historian Dr Robert Prescott that the banks of the River Roach near the village of Paglesham are the last resting place of HMS Beagle.
The historic ship will be forever associated with Charles Darwin who served as its naturalist on her second great voyage between 1831 and 1836.
This journey sowed in Darwin’s mind the seed of the ideas that would eventually become his theory of natural selection and revolutionise the way we look at the world and ourselves.
Dr Prescott, from the University of St Andrews, decided to find out what happened to the Beagle after she completed her third and final great voyage in 1843.
Dr Prescott and a team of archaeologists discovered a structure buried which matches the size and shape of the Beagle, after using ground radar and other geophysical techniques at the Paglesham site.
He hopes that by the end of this year the ship will once again be brought to light after 140 years buried in the Essex mud.
There was an episode of a television series, which covered Dr Prescott’s researching, a few years back.
Meet the Ancestors: Season 7 Episode 3 (2004) : The Hunt for Darwin’s Beagle
Julian Richards follows marine archaeologist Robert Prescott and scientist Colin Pillinger in their bid to find the final resting place of HMS Beagle, the ship made famous by naturalist Charles Darwin’s voyages of discovery. Old maps and previous digs provide clues to the vessel’s final resting place, and a remote-sensing survey at a secret location in the Essex marshes reveals the remains of a 90ft hull.
Beagle novel : This Thing of Darkness by Harry Thompson