Hunting the Beagle
9.00pm, Friday 9 January 2009
HMS Beagle is an icon, one of the most scientifically important ships ever to sail the oceans. She's most famous for the five year voyage during which the ship's scientist, Charles Darwin, began to formulate the ideas which would eventually become the basis of our understanding of evolution. The Beagle was a little ship - only 90 metres long on deck and she never fought in any major battles - yet she changed the world. But a century and a half ago she vanished. After her final voyage in 1843 she sailed quietly out of the historical record and into oblivion.
However, one man is certain he knows exactly where she is. After nearly a decade of painstaking detective work, biologist and maritime historian Dr. Robert Prescott of the University of St. Andrews believes that the timbers of the Beagle lie buried in the mud of the Essex marshes on the River Roach, not far from the village of Paglesham. 'Hunting the Beagle' tells the story of the dedicated detective work, a painstaking paper trail and advanced archaeological techniques which have led Robert Prescott to this spot.