The “Beagle” Collection

The 'Beagle' Collection comprises approximately 2000 rocks and a few fossils collected by Charles Darwin (1809-1882) during his voyage around the world on H.M.S. Beagle between 1831-1836. Although Darwin had studied for the clergy at Cambridge, he was friends with Adam Sedgwick and accompanied him on his 1831 field excursion to North Wales. When Darwin embarked upon the voyage of HMS Beagle he considered himself to be a geologist. Darwin's 'Beagle' specimens were given to the Museum after his death and when they arrived at the museum a manuscript catalogue was prepared by petrologist Alfred Harker (1859-1939) into which were copied the entries from Darwin’s notebooks. Later research, especially using thin sections, has also been recorded in the book. Darwin’s identifications have mostly been proven correct; the occasional errors are excusable from the nature of the relevant rocks.



Monday to Friday
10:00 to 13:00 & 14:00 to 17:00

10:00 to 16:00 


Fifty years ago, Cambridge mineralogist, Dr Stuart Agrell was given VIP treatment and a police escort after flying into Heathrow from the USA because he was carrying a bag full of very precious rock material. The samples were amongst the most expensive ever collected as they had been retrieved from the moon by two of the American Apollo 11 mission astronauts. The programme of their investigation was a remarkable and unprecedented example of international scientific collaboration, which still continues.

Stuart Agrell on the underground with a carpet bag of rocks from the Apollo 11 missionGuess what I’ve got in my bag? 50 years ago, Cambridge mineralogist, Stuart Agrell nonchalantly carried some of the most valuable rocks ever collected back to Cambridge in his holdall. (© Mirrorpix, reproduced with permission)

Two of the University of Cambridge’s museums, the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences and Museum of Zoology have been shortlisted for the prestigious Family Friendly Museum Award, it was announced today.