Rare Shells Collection From Captain Cook’s Ship Are on Display for the First Time in 100 Years

Rare shells, including specimens collected during Captain James Cook’s final voyage, have been recently put on display at the Chesters Roman Fort and Museum in Chollerford, UK, for the first time in 100 years.

The collection, described as “internationally important”, once belonged to a British collector named Bridget Atkinson (1732-1814) before being passed onto her grandson John Clayton. Thanks to her connections and acquaintances, Atkinson managed to acquire shells from all over the world. One of those acquaintances was a man named George Dixon, who served as an armorer for Captain Cook during the third voyage on HMS Resolution. During the voyage, which made stops in South Africa, New Zealand, and the Hawaiian Islands, Dixon collected various shells that he sent to Atkinson.

Most of Atkinson’s collection was sold by the early 20th century, but 200 specimens, including those sent to her by Dixon, ended up with the zoology department of Armstrong College (modern Newcastle University). At some point in the 1980s, the department’s offices were cleaned out, and the shells were discarded as trash.

But before they were taken away by the waste collectors, Professor Dr John Buchanan spotted the shells and saved them. Recently, Buchanan’s family decided to donate the shells to English Heritage, a charity that manages historic monuments.

“We’ve always known about Bridget Atkinson’s collection but had believed it completely lost,” said Dr Frances McIntosh, English Heritage’s Collections Curator for Hadrian’s Wall and the North East. “To discover that the shells have not only survived but been kept safe and loved all this time is nothing short of a miracle.”

Was Isaac Newton’s Theory of Gravitation Inspired By an Apple Falling From a Tree?

Even people who are not interested in science are familiar with the story of an apple falling from a tree, which inspired famous English...

Should William Shakespeare’s Authorship of His Plays and Sonnets Be Questioned?

William Shakespeare wrote 39 plays, 154 sonnets, and three narrative poems over the course of his life. However, some believe that Shakespeare didn’t actually...

Let’s Take a Look at the French Revolution

The French Revolution, which began in 1789, is one of the most significant events in modern history. It marked a break from the historical...