Fabled explorer’s ship discovered 160 years later

160 years after Sir John Franklin led his team of 129 men toward the Canadian Arctic, the Canadian government confirmed that in September 2014, they found the wreckage of one of the two ships that sailed on their mission.

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Sir John Franklin / © Look and Learn / Elgar Collection / Bridgeman Images

 

Departure of the "Erebus" and "Terror" on the Arctic Expedition / © Look and Learn / Illustrated Papers Collection / Bridgeman Images
Departure of the “Erebus” and “Terror” on the Arctic Expedition / © Look and Learn / Illustrated Papers Collection / Bridgeman Images

The age of exploration

The disappearance of Sir John Franklin and his crew has become known as one of the great mysteries of the Victorian age of exploration. After abandoning their ships that had become locked in the ice, the men were spotted by Inuit natives staggering through the snow. The entire crew perished from starvation and the cold, only three were ever recovered.

 

HMS Terror in ice in Frozen Strait / William Smyth / De Agostini Picture Library / Bridgeman Images
HMS Terror in ice in Frozen Strait / William Smyth / De Agostini Picture Library / Bridgeman Images

A hero and a ghost story

It has been told that Franklin’s wife led a fleet of five ships in the recovery mission to find her husband, leaving scraps and cans of food in the snow in the desperate hope that the men would find them. Sir John Franklin has gone down in history as a hero of Victorian exploration, whilst his crew became the characters of a ghost story.

 

Poster offering a reward for the discovery of the lost Franklin Artic Expedition / Private Collection / Bridgeman Images
Poster offering a reward for the discovery of the lost Franklin Artic Expedition / Private Collection / Bridgeman Images

 

Relics of the Franklin Expedition / © Look and Learn / Illustrated Papers Collection / Bridgeman Images
Relics of the Franklin Expedition / © Look and Learn / Illustrated Papers Collection / Bridgeman Images

Groundbreaking discovery

The ship was unearthed as a result of a five year effort by the Canadian government to assert Canadians ownership over the Northwest Passage which is becoming more frequently used as a result of its widening due to polar ice meltdown and global warming.

The find has been described by archeologists as “the biggest archaeological discovery the world has seen since the opening of Tutankhamun’s tomb almost 100 years ago”.

See all images of John Franklin and his expedition in the Bridgeman Archive.

 

Sir John Franklin's Winter Quarters / from a survey by Com. W.J.S. Pullen 1854 / The Stapleton Collection / Bridgeman Images
Sir John Franklin’s Winter Quarters / from a survey by Com. W.J.S. Pullen 1854 / The Stapleton Collection / Bridgeman Images

Find Out more

All images on this post were sourced from Bridgeman. Contact their sales team on uksales@bridgemanimages.com with any queries regarding licensing and clearing copyright.

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