Underwater Archaeologists Return to Wreckage of HMS Erebus

News February 21, 2020

(© Parks Canada, Underwater Archaeology Team)
HMS Erebus Epaulettes
(© Parks Canada, Underwater Archaeology Team)

NUNAVUT, CANADA—Parks Canada underwater archaeologists under the direction of Marc-André Bernier have recovered more than 350 artifacts from the living quarters in the lower deck of the HMS Erebus, according to a CBC Canada report. The Erebus and the HMS Terror set sail from England under the command of Sir John Franklin in 1845 in search of the Northwest Passage. Franklin, his crew of 128 men, and both ships were lost in the Canadian Arctic sometime after 1848. Erebus was discovered in the shallow waters of Wilmot and Crampton Bay in 2016, but bad weather has prevented archaeologists from a detailed investigation of the wreckage until this past fall. The recently recovered artifacts include a lieutenant’s epaulettes decorated with twisted, gold-plated silver wires; a leather coat sleeve; navigational instruments; table service for the captain’s table; an eau de toilette bottle; a hairbrush; an accordion; and a lead stamp marked with the name of the captain’s steward. No logs or diaries have been found so far, but the researchers have recovered a wooden pencil case, four kinds of pencils, and a quill with a full feather and a pointed end. Bernier said diaries and logs with clues to what happened to the expedition may yet be found in the officers’ quarters. For more, go to "Canada Finds Erebus," one of ARCHAEOLOGY's Top 10 Discoveries of 2014.

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