The remains of Matthew Flinders, the first British explorer to circumnavigate Australia, will be reburied in his home village after being discovered under a London train station, a rail development company has said.
The lost grave of the British explorer, who is credited with popularizing Australia’s name, was found under London’s Euston train station in January as the area was excavated for high speed rail development HS2.
More than 200 years after his death, the explorer will be buried at the Church of St Mary and the Holy Rood in Donington, Lincolnshire, east England, rail company HS2 said Thursday.
Flinders died in 1814 just as his greatest work, an atlas and book of discoveries made circumnavigating the Australian continent, was published.
He was originally interred in the St James burial ground in London. According to the archeology team at HS2, Flinders’ headstone was removed after the expansion of Euston train station onto the burial ground, and his remains were believed to be lost.
As many as 40,000 graves in the cemetery in which Flinders was buried are being exhumed by archeologists as part of HS2’s excavation project.
Archeologists were able to identify the captain’s remains by the lead breast plate placed on top of his coffin, HS2 said on its website.
While Flinders never received significant recognition for his achievements while alive, he is now celebrated as a national hero in Australia — where his name adorns one of the country’s largest universities, a major thoroughfare in Melbourne and a town in the state of Victoria.
“It is fitting that the last voyage of Captain Matthew Flinders will be back to the village of Donington where he grew up and we are pleased to be playing our part in his last journey,” Helen Wass, head of heritage at HS2, said in a statement.
“This local boy from Donington put Australia on the map due to his tenacity and expertise as a navigator and explorer. The Flinders name is synonymous with exploration, science and discovery, and HS2, through its archaeology programme, will ensure that we maximise the opportunities for further academic and scientific study,” she added.
Flinders’ descendants and the local community had requested that his remains be reburied in the village, HS2 said.
The explorer was baptised in the church, and many members of his family are buried there.
There is no set date for the reburial, HS2 said.