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Old explorer found Down Under site of HS2 station

Shiver me Flinders: Breastplate of sailor’s 1814 coffin (below) and where he was found (above) PICTURE: PA

THE remains of an explorer who led the first known expedition around the coast of Australia have been found after more than 170 years.

Capt Matthew Flinders was laid to rest in 1814 at St James’s burial ground in central London.

But his headstone was removed when part of the site was taken over to make room for the expansion of Euston Station in the 1840s.

An urban myth grew up that he was buried under platform 15. But his coffin has now been unearthed by archaeologists carrying out digs at nearby St James’s Gardens before an HS2 train station is built there.

HS2’s head of heritage Helen Wass said: ‘Capt Flinders put Australia on the map due to his tenacity and expertise as a navigator and explorer.

‘Given the number of human remains at St James’s, we weren’t confident we were going to find him. We were very lucky that his coffin had a breastplate made of lead, meaning it would not have corroded.

‘We’ll be able to study his skeleton to see whether life at sea left its mark.’

The Royal Navy sailor (pictured) completed his trip around Australia from 1801 to 1803, proving it was surrounded by the sea.

Though not the first to use the country’s name, he pushed for it to be made official, popularising it in his writings.

More than 40,000 skeletons are to be removed in the digs. Others buried at the site include Bill ‘the Black Terror’ Richmond, a US slave who became a free Londoner and famed bare-knuckle boxer.