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 


How do you get thirty-six 8-11yr olds excited about science in museums? Give them a ‘crime scene’ and skills to solve the crime.

Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated expedition to the North-West Passage has often been in the news ever since he left England on the 19th May, 1845 never to return. Successive searches throughout the 19th century eventually found artefacts and human remains. But it was not until 2014 the wreck of Franklin’s ship, HMS Erebus was found and two years later the wreck of HMS Terror. Now the extraordinary story of HMS Erebus is receiving new publicity thanks to the publication of Michael Palin’s new book – ‘Erebus : the story of a ship’. Whilst the earliest searches did not find any traces of Franklin and his crew, one of them, led by Captain Kellett did find a superb mammoth tusk, which is now part of the Sedgwick Museum’s Ice Age display.