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 


W.B.R. King was awarded the Military Cross for bravery with the British Expeditionary Force before being evacuated from Dunkirk in 1940. He was a Cambridge graduate and World War I veteran who pioneered the use of geological expertise in the theatre of war. King went on to become the 11th Woodwardian professor of geology in 1944.

The recent discovery of Ice Age mammoth and rhino remains near Cambridge became national news. By coincidence, the Sedgwick Museum at the University of Cambridge has a new exhibit which tells the story of late Ice Age times and how the life and environments of Cambridgeshire were dramatically altered by climate change.