Archaeologists working on the HS2 project behind Euston station, have discovered the remains of Captain Matthew Flinders, the explorer who is credited with giving Australia its name.
HS2 archaeologists say that they were able to identify his remains by the lead depositum plate (breast plate) placed on top of his coffin. The discovery of his burial site among 40,000 other human remains in the burial ground so early in the archaeological dig has thrilled archaeologists working on the project.
He was buried at St. James’s burial ground on 23rd July 1814.
Following the expansion of Euston station westwards into part of the burial ground in 1840s, Flinders’s headstone was removed and it was thought that his remains had been lost.
For a long time, there was an urban myth that Cpt. Flinders was buried under platform 15 at Euston station. Now they know the real location of his real burial place.
Captain (Cpt.) Flinders made several significant voyages, most notably as commander of H.M.S. Investigator which he navigated around the entire coast of Australia. This made him the first known person to sail around the country in its entirety, confirming it as a continent. He is also credited with giving Australia its name, although not the first to use the term, his work popularised its use. His surname is associated with many places in Australia, including Flinders Station in Melbourne, Flinders Ranges in South Australia and the town of Flinders in Victoria.
At the bicentenary of his death in 2014, a memorial statue of Cpt. Matthew Flinders was unveiled by the Duke of Cambridge at Australia House and later installed at Euston Station. Virgin Trains also named one of its Pendolino trains “The Matthew Flinders”.
A scientific study of human remains from St James’s burial ground will also improve our understanding of life and death in London’s 18th and 19th centuries, shedding light on health and disease, social status and lifestyle. Those buried in the long since demolished chapel and burial ground include individuals from all walks of life, as well as victims of accidents, disease, suicide and murder.
Cpt. Matthew Flinders will be reinterred with the buried population of St. James’s Gardens at a location to be announced.