None of them made it. In 1854, explorer John Rae, while surveying near the Canadian Arctic coast southeast of King William Island, acquired relicsof and stories about the Franklin party from the Inuit. The goal of the King William Island … When it happens out of necessity, cannibalism occurs in phases. The 10-member Bergmann crew found the massive shipwreck, with her three masts broken but still standing, almost all hatches closed and everything stowed, in the middle of King William Island… Cookie Policy They investigated the site, expecting to find something similar. California Do Not Sell My Info The bones they analyzed showed signs of breakage and heating—thus, the crewmembers likely cooked them to extract the marrow. "They said he was a great shaman who turned to stone," says Kamookak. It is here the first clues of the ill-fated Franklin Expedition appeared. On August 27, 1850, a ship discovered the three graves on Beechey Island, the first tangible clue of Franklin's route, but found no letters or records. Smithsonian Institution. Searchers in the northern reaches of King William Island found a rock cairn with a tin canister inside, which held a note with two messages in different hands. His ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, were beset by ice to the north of King William Island in September 1946 and remained until April 1848 when they were abandoned. Helen Thompson writes about science and culture for Smithsonian. Franklin died on 11 June 1847. Recent scientific research has suggested that Braine’s body showed symptoms of tuberculosis and lead poisoning prior to his death. Little by little, the Franklin story is coming together.Â. There have been a number of studies examining the remains recovered from the graves and their vicinity on Beechey Island, as well as from King William Island. The two ships were equipped with robust, iron-layered hulls and ste… Apparently, much of the measurement came from the hair of the bodies. She's previously written for NPR, National Geographic News, Nature and others. Searchers built it in 1852-53 from the wreckage of an old whaling vessel. Rumors that the crew resorted to cannibalism have swirled around the doomed expedition since the 19th century. "One group of Inuit said they saw a burial of a great chief under the ground, under stone.". "They managed to get a cross piece they took for a sled. On the shores of the island the search party found three graves with engraved headstones identifying the dead as John Torrington, William Braine, and John Hartnell—all crew members of Franklin’s. The first message, written in May 1847 on the prescribed lines, described everything as “all … His corpse was found to be in the worst condition among the Beechey Island bodies, having been gnawed at by rats before burial. The ships Erebus and Terror set out from England in 1845 with 129 men to search for the Northwest Passage, but they never returned. Two expeditions between 1860 and 1869 by Charles Francis Hall, who lived among the Inuit near Frobisher Bay on Baffin Island and later at Repulse Bay on the Canadian mainland, found camps, graves, and relics on the southern coast of King William Island, but he believed none of the Franklin expedition survivors would be found among the Inuit. Ships' location. Led by Francis Crozier, Captain of the Terror, the remaining 105 crew members traveled south along King William Island toward the mainland. In May 1869, Hall searched for the graves of two white men discovered by Inuit at a place known as Set-tee-u-me-nun, on the south shore of King William Island between Booth Point and the Peffer River. All they found was a flat stone. Knife marks adorned the bones, backing up those early accounts. ''Graves, Captain Penny! William Braine’s facial reconstruction and his exhumed body John Hartnell Inuit guardians 'happy and proud' to protect Franklin's ships, CBC's Journalistic Standards and Practices. Their ships the H.M.S. When the Expedition failed to return to England in 1849 -- a year after planned -- search parties were formed and a slight trail of clues were discovered to shed light on their fate. This is called end-stage cannibalism, and it’s usually part of a last ditch effort to survive. Terms of Use On September 7 2014 Erebus was finally discovered near King William Island in the eastern Queen Maud Gulf, Canada, using a remotely operated underwater vehicle. Several of these ships converged off the east coast of Beechey Island, where the first relics of the expedition were found, including the graves of three crewmen. The man who guided searchers to the wreck of John Franklin's flagship may have one more surprise left up his parka sleeve. In 1845, an expedition of 129 men led by explorer Sir John Franklin left Great Britain for the Canadian Arctic in search of the Northwest Passage. A note left in a canister on King William Island in the central Canadian Arctic indicates that their ships got stranded in ice. The man who was telling the story said there was a flat stone and he could tell the stone was hollow.". Miraculously, Erebus was found exactly where the Inuits had told John Rae it would be in 1854. The cost of the expedition was of no import, as finally finding the long sought shortcut to Asia before the other world powers did was of the utmost importance. In 2018, archaeological investigations on King William Island led to the rediscovery of the grave of a member of the 1845 Franklin expedition first re… But where is the grave of John Franklin?Â. On King William Island in the Canadian Arctic, scour marks have been identified in locations where the island rose out of the sea—the result of a postglacial rebound after the weight of the Laurentide Ice Sheet was removed. Get the best of Smithsonian magazine by email. 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Is that what happened to the doomed Franklin expedition? King William Island -- "Kikituq" The hamlet of Gjoa Haven . The man who guided searchers to the wreck of John Franklin's flagship may have one more surprise left up his parka sleeve. Here, three of the 130-person crew are buried near the shore, on an otherwise desolate plain. Furthermore, Canadian geologist Christopher … Most probably died of starvation, and in 1854, rumors of cannibalism arose from interviews with local Inuits who told tales of piles of human bones, cracked in half, writes Ghose. If he's wrong, chalk up one more mystery in a tale that's been generating questions for 170 years. View north of King William Island in Larsen Sound, in the area where Sir John Frankkin's ships presumably were trapped in 1846-1848 [photo taken in August 2003] [ larger image ] Graves on Beechey Island: three dating from the Franklin expedition, one from a … A team of 4 elite athlete-adventurers is traveling to King William Island in the Canadian Arctic on July 25th, 2018 to retrace the presumed route of Captain Sir John Franklin’s doomed crew. Now, new evidence suggests that Franklin’s crew not only consumed the flesh of deceased compatriots, they also cracked bones to eat the marrow inside, Tia Ghose reports for Live Science. Terror never returned to British shores. Keep up-to-date on: © 2020 Smithsonian Magazine. And now, a new analysis of 35 bones by anthropologists Simon Mays and Owen Beattie suggests that the men did indeed eat one another. Several memorials and markers here are tangential. History shows the Franklin Expedition camped the winter of 1845-1846 on Beechey Island where later parties discovered artifacts and the graves of three sailors. Graves! First, people cut flesh from bones, focusing on big muscle groups. ... King William Island vanished from the itinerary as completely and inexplicably as Franklin himself had disappeared a … The graves on Beechey Island ... (one important member of his Beechey Island visit was with me on my third visit to King William Island). King William Island -- to the West of Gjoa Haven . Privacy Statement Fragments of clothing recovered from the Beechey Island graves of John Hartnell, John Torrington and William Braine, who died of disease during the first year of the Franklin expedition, during the winter of 1845-46. The Victory Point cairn note tells of the plan to leave the following day on foot to Back River, which opens on the coast of the mainland just south of King William Island. And now, a new analysis of 35 bones … Grave of John Torrington, Beechey Island . or In another account, a group of travelling Inuit came across a large wooden structure. In May 1845, accomplished Arctic explorer and officer of the English Royal Navy, Sir John Franklin, was handed the reigns of an expedition that sought to locate the lucrative Northwest Passage trade route. This was remarkable for the hunters, as Inuit traditionally buried their dead on the surface, wrapped in caribou skins and under a cairn. Intense searches in the 1850s shed light on the fate of the expedition. Interior of a large snow-house, Gjoa Haven . Though the expedition had plenty of food aboard, the men mysteriously abandoned those provisions to hike inland along the Back River in search of a Hudson Bay Company trading post, writes Ghose. Box 500 Station A Toronto, ON Canada, M5W 1E6. Erebus and the H.M.S. In August, Parks Canada archeologists under Bernier’s direction also probed the seabed near King William Island in an effort to locate the Franklin Expedition’s lost ships. The mystery that surrounds the Franklin Expedition is one of the great legends of Arctic exploration. "I believe that Franklin is in a vault on King William Island," says Louie Kamookak, an Inuit historian who has spent 30 years correlating stories collected from elders with European logbooks and journals. When things get even direr, they start to break the bones apart to get at the fat-rich marrow inside. It had wintered on the small Beechey Island 1845/46. In 1984, Owen Beattie, a Canadian anthropologist, exhumed the three Beechey Island graves in order to examine, X-ray and autopsy their contents. The Stones of King William Island . (The name, by the way, was given to honour the ship when it was still lost, not because it was thought to be there on the southwest edge of King William Island.) The trash left behind by the crew on the island indicated that Franklin's men had wintered there in 1845–46. It was only in the last decade that the vessels’ wrecks were finally located near King William Island, where the ships became trapped in ice. Give a Gift. "I don't think they would have an ocean burial for him. Lead readings in hair varies along its length. In the 1980s and 1990s, researchers recovered remains of the crew on King William Island. Kamookak relates two stories passed down through generations that may offer tantalizing clues. 17th Annual Photo Contest Finalists Announced. … As for the Erebus, it was found by Parks Canada in 36 feet of water off King William Island in 2014. Beechey Island is one of the most important historic sites in the Arctic. Graves of Franklin's men, Beechey Island . "Â, If he's right, Franklin is probably still lying beneath the tundra on King William Island's rocky and windswept northeast coast.Â. Audience Relations, CBC P.O. Mays and Beattie published their results June 18 in the International Journal of Osteology. McClintock and later searchers found relics, graves, and human remains of the Franklin crew on Beechey Island, King William Island, and the northern coast of the Canadian mainland, but no survivors. After viewing the graves, first discovered in 1850, passengers hiked slightly more than one kilometer along the shore to check out Northumberland House. Given that other expedition graves have been found on land, Kamookak believes Franklin's is there too. In the 1980s and 1990s, researchers recovered remains of the crew on King William Island. (In fact, the ships themselves weren’t even located until 2014 and 2016 off the southwestern coast of King William Island, far from Prince Regent Inlet and south of the island… It is a priority for CBC to create a website that is accessible to all Canadians including people with visual, hearing, motor and cognitive challenges. Artifacts and graves found throughout the 19th and 20th centuries were joined by several more bodies discovered in the 1980s. Beechey Island . Advertising Notice The man who guided searchers to the wreck of John Franklin's flagship may have one more surprise left up his parka sleeve. Knife marks adorned the bones, backing up those early accounts. Closed Captioning and Described Video is available for many CBC shows offered on CBC Gem. Vote Now! Hills on Cornwallis Island above Resolute Bay The ships were found in 2014 and 2016. Those three bodies remain buried on Beechey Island to this day. The wintering quarters were found, including a small cemetery with the burials of three seamen who had died during the overwintering. Artefacts from the expedition’s tragic end line the western and southern shores of King William island: graves, bones, records, and a lifeboat remain at Victory Point at the northwest, and further graves and skeletons stretch down as the crew marched to their end.