The Famous Ship Burial And Helmet That May Belong To Raedwald, King Of All The Kings Of Britain

A medieval ship burial in England that is so impressive and mysterious that it’s been compared to the world of the Old English epic “Beowulf” But who is actually buried at the 1,400-year-old site known as Sutton Hoo? Here mysterious grassy mounds covered a number of ancient graves. In one particular grave, belonging to an important Anglo-Saxon warrior, some astonishing objects were buried, but there is little in the grave to make it clear who was buried there historical records dating to the period are limited, and the remains of those buried at the site are completely decayed, leaving no physical remains to analyze,

 The royal burial site at Sutton Hoo, a few miles from the Suffolk coast, East England, is the most famous of all Anglo-Saxon sites. It is mainly known for its outstanding funerary discoveries and in Mound 1, sheds light on the war gear of early seventh-century Anglo-Saxon rulers.

In the summer of 1939, an amateur archaeologist, Basil Brown (1888 – 1977), made one of the most exciting discoveries in British archaeology; they found the tomb of an Anglo-Saxon who had been buried there in the early 600s. Beneath the mound was the imprint of a 27-metre-long ship. At its centre was a ruined burial chamber packed with treasures: Byzantine silverware, sumptuous gold jewelry, a lavish feasting set, and most famously, an ornate iron helmet. Dating to the early 600s, this outstanding burial clearly commemorated a leading figure of East Anglia, the local Anglo-Saxon kingdom. It may even have belonged to a king. Many thought that King Raedwald, who ruled a kingdom in East Anglia and died around A.D. 627, is the best candidate. But even that’s just a best guess. 

Artist interpretation by Alan Sorrell of the moving of the burial ship over to the grave. Image credits: A.C. Evans, 1986 via Archaeology of Britain.

Who was Raedwald?

Archaeologists point to Raedwald because the date of the coins and other artifacts matches well with the time of his reign and because the burial does not seem to be fully Christian — something that jibes with what historical records say about him. Sutton Hoo’s location in East Anglia and the richness of its artifacts link it to the East Anglian royal dynasty. 

Raedwald ruled a kingdom in East Anglia and struggled over whether he should be Christian or pagan. At one point, he built a temple that had a Christian altar and a pagan altar side by side, St. Bede (lived A.D. 672-735) wrote in his book the “Ecclesiastical History of the English People.” 

Raedwald’s religious dilemma is important, as scholars have noted that there are few artifacts at Sutton Hoo that have Christian motifs. “He seemed at the same time to serve Christ and the gods whom he had served before,” wrote St. Bede (translation by J.A. Giles). “In the same temple, he had an altar to sacrifice to Christ and another small one to offer victims to devils,” Bede wrote, calling Raedwald “noble by birth, though ignoble in his actions.”

Moreover, Raedwald was a prominent king during his time, intervening in a dispute over who should be King of Northumbria by using his army to ensure that Edwin, one of the claimants, was crowned.  The Sutton Hoo ship burial — with its ornate accessories made of gold and jewels — seems rich enough for such a ruler. 

In this reconstruction drawing, the Sutton Hoo ship burial holds a wealth of Anglo-Saxon artifacts and the body of what is likely a king from East Anglia. (Image credit: English Heritage/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

However, some archaeologists were more cautious in their assessments.

“I think the balance of evidence suggests the burial site is connected to the East Anglian royal dynasty, and I think this is as far as we can, and should, go with this question,” Howard Williams, an archaeology professor at the University of Chester in England, told OTCB He noted that although Raedwald, or perhaps another East Anglian king, could be buried at Sutton Hoo, we shouldn’t rule out the possibility that the burial could be from a king of a neighboring East Saxon kingdom. 

Another possibility is a relative of Raedwald. “If you held a gun to my head, I would say Raedwald, but equally I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it turned out to be someone else,” said Alex Woolf, a senior lecturer in medieval history at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. “Raedwald is probably the best bet, but far from certain. His son Eorpwald had a short reign after him, and there are other members of the family in the seventh century we know little about.” 

In 1993, Woolf and two colleagues wrote a paper published in the journal Anglo-Saxon England suggesting that the burial could hold the remains of someone from the East Saxon kingdom. Ultimately, “I don’t think we can know for sure” who was buried in the boat grave, Woolf said.

However, Barbara Yorke, an emeritus professor of early medieval history at the University of Winchester in England, said other East Anglian kings from the time period seem unlikely for a variety of reasons. For example, these kings reigned for short periods, had strong ties to Christianity or died before the minting of the coins. Therefore, Raedwald is the most likely candidate, she said.

“Raedwald was the most powerful of the East Anglian kings, and the ship burial seems the richest and most impressive of the Sutton Hoo burials,” Yorke said. 

Some of the researchers cautioned that we cannot be certain the boat burial even belongs to a king. “The Staffordshire hoard and other more recent finds show that finds of very high-quality gold and garnet work were more common than was thought at the time of the main publication of Sutton Hoo in the 1970s, and although there is no doubt that such items denoted very high status, they may not have been held exclusively by kings,” said Gareth Williams, a curator at The British Museum. (Discovered in 2009, the Staffordshire hoard is an Anglo-Saxon treasure holding some 3,500 items made from gold, silver and other metals that dates to the seventh century.)

Williams pointed out that there is also a debate over the age of the coins at Sutton Hoo. “Most recent commentators would prefer a broader date range, which would certainly include A.D. 625 but would extend by some years to either side. Raedwald is therefore a strong possibility, but not the only one,” Williams said. 

Ongoing research at Sutton Hoo

Recently, archaeologists at Sutton Hoo have been using lidar, a technology that uses a laser to map out terrain, along with ground- penetrating radar to examine details of how the cemetery was constructed. Many researchers told Live Science that although it is unlikely that we will know for sure who was buried at the site, Sutton Hoo is still worth studying. 

“I do not think we will ever be able to name the individual buried at Sutton Hoo with certainty, but this does not keep me awake at night,” said Sue Brunning, curator of early medieval and Sutton Hoo collections at The British Museum. “While a name would be the cherry on the cake, there is so much of value to learn from the archaeology of the burial, and I feel that it is more rewarding to direct our ideas and energy into the wider context.”

European timeline, AD 300–1100

AD 300–1100

Celtic Britain and Ireland

The people of Ireland and northern and Western Britain spoke Celtic languages and shared ancient traditions and beliefs.

AD 300–500

The Roman Empire and beyond

At its height, the Roman Empire extended all around the Mediterranean and into continental Europe and Britain.

AD 330–650

The Byzantine Empire

The Byzantine Empire comprised the eastern part of the Roman Empire following its division in east and west in AD 395. Its capital was Constantinople. 

AD 400–750

Great migrations

As Roman control in Western Europe weakened, Germanic peoples from outside the Empire began to enter and settle on former Roman territories. 

AD 450–1100

Anglo-Saxon England

After the Roman army withdrew from Britain in AD 410, groups of Germanic peoples from Northwest Europe crossed the North Sea to settle in parts of southern and eastern Britain. 

AD 750–1100

The Vikings

Originating from Scandinavia, the Vikings voyaged overseas to raid, trade and settle in new lands at this time. 

Model of the Sutton Hoo ship-burial 1, England. The placement of the burial chamber is marked white.Image credit: Eebahgum – CC BY-SA 3.0

1939 excavation of Sutton Hoo burial ship. Image credit: Harold John Phillips  – Public Domain

In “The Sutton Hoo Ship Burial,”The cap of the helmet was formed from a size piece of iron, and it is divided into ornamental zones, each with detailed engraved by the metalsmith who created it, due to the use of different metals.”

People wondered whether this could be a cenotaph, a symbolic burial, where the body had been lost.

The Sutton Hoo helmet is a remarkable example of the Saxon craft.

2025 BMW 650I Project, The Future Of BMW?

Here it is, the BMW 6 series designed by @pierre_snlt_design and decembry . The first car in what should become a trilogy. Their Goals were to revisit BMW design through a specific period, for this model they were inspired by the 50s and before. The exterior is a reinterpretation of the 327-2.

650i is equipped with a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 engine which produces 413PS (304 kW) and 600 Nm (442 lb-ft) of torque. Hence it is very easy for this car to develop 0-100 km/h for just 5.0 seconds. The engine of this outstanding car is mated to six-speed manual transmission, and in addition the model includes Dynamic Damper Control as standard and the Active Roll Stabilization.

The Most Famous Lost Shipwrecks Yet to be Discovered

The sunken treasures waiting for explorers

It’s estimated there are around three million undiscovered shipwrecks around the world. Some are being searched for right now – and a few of those might even contain riches.

For as long as humans have been traversing the seas, ships have been lost to the depths. And although most vessels that sink beneath the waves are eventually forgotten, some remain prized treasures sought for generations.

The 16th-century Portuguese vessel Flor de la Mar, for example, has been the centre of countless search expeditions eager to recover her priceless lost cargo of diamonds, gold and precious stones. Ships like Captain Cook’s Endeavour, on the other hand, remain sought after for their invaluable historical significance.

From a Cornish wreck known as ‘El Dorado of the Seas’ to some of the most iconic vessels in seafaring history, here are some of the most famous shipwrecks that are yet to be discovered.

 Santa Maria (1492)

The notorious explorer Christopher Columbus set sail for the New World in 1492 with three ships: NiñaPinta and Santa Maria. During the course of Columbus’ voyage, which took him to the Caribbean, Santa Maria sank.

According to legend, Columbus left a cabin boy at the helm while we went off to sleep. Shortly after, the inexperienced boy ran the ship aground. Santa Maria was stripped of any valuables, and it sank the following day.

The whereabouts of Santa Maria remain a mystery to this day. Some suspect it lies on the seabed near present-day Haiti. In 2014, the marine archaeologist Barry Clifford claimed he had found the famed wreckage, but UNESCO later dispelled his discovery as a different ship some two or three centuries younger than Santa Maria.

Early 20th-century painting of Christopher Columbus’ caravelle, Santa Maria.

Image Credit: Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

 Flor de la Mar (1511)

Flor de la Mar, or Flor do Mar, is one of the most renowned undiscovered shipwrecks anywhere on Earth, thought to be filled with vast diamonds, gold and untold riches.

Despite being notorious for springing leaks and running into trouble, Flor de la Mar was called to assist in Portugal’s conquest of Malacca (in present-day Malaysia) in 1511. Upon its return voyage to Portugal, laden with riches, Flor de la Mar sank in a storm on 20 November 1511.

It’s thought Flor de la Mar was in or near the Strait of Malacca, which runs between modern Malaysia and the Indonesian island of Sumatra, when she sank.

The wreck, and its reputed $2 billion of treasure and precious stones, have yet to be found, though not for lack of trying: treasure hunter Robert Marx has spent around $20 million searching for the ship, which he has described as “the richest vessel ever lost at sea”.

Artist’s Depiction Of The Flor De La Mar Shipwreck.

 The Merchant Royal (1641)

The Merchant Royal is an English vessel that sank in 1641, off of Land’s End in Cornwall, England. A trade ship, The Merchant Royal was carrying a cargo of gold and silver believed to be worth tens, if not hundreds, of millions today.

Nicknamed ‘El Dorado of the Seas’, The Merchant Royal has attracted a great deal of interest over the years, with amateur treasure hunters and marine archaeologists alike looking for it.

A search operation by Odyssey Marine Exploration in 2007 uncovered a wreckage, but coins from the site suggested they’d discovered Spanish frigate rather than the much-prized Merchant Royal.

In 2019, the ship’s anchor was retrieved from the waters off of Cornwall, but the ship itself has yet to be located.

4. Le Griffon (1679)

Le Griffon, also referred to as simply Griffin, was a French vessel operating in America’s Great Lakes in the 1670s. She set sail into Lake Michigan from Green Bay in September 1679. But the ship, along with its crew of six men and cargo of fur, never reached its destination of Mackinac Island.

It’s unclear whether Le Griffon fell prey to a storm, navigational difficulties or even foul play. Now referred to as the ‘holy grail of Great Lakes shipwrecks’, Le Griffon has been the focus of many search expeditions in recent decades.

In 2014, two treasure hunters thought they’d uncovered the famed wreckage, but their discovery turned out to be a far younger ship. A book, titled The Wreck of the Griffon, outlined in 2015 the theory that a Lake Huron wreckage discovered in 1898 is actually Le Griffon.

Digitised image of Le Griffon from page 44 of “Annals of Fort Mackinac”

Image Credit: British Library via Flickr / Public Domain

HMS Endeavour (1778)

The English explorer ‘Captain’ James Cook is known for landing off Australia’s east coast aboard his ship, HMS Endeavour, in 1770. But the Endeavour had a long and illustrious career after Cook.

Sold off after Cook’s voyage of discovery, Endeavour was renamed the Lord Sandwich. She was then employed by Britain’s Royal Navy to transport troops during the American War of Independence.

In 1778, Lord Sandwich was sunk, intentionally, in or near Newport Harbour, Rhode Island, one of several sacrificed vessels used to form a blockade against approaching French ships.

In February 2022, marine researchers declared they’d discovered the wreck, a claim which was corroborated by the Australian National Maritime Museum. But some experts said it was premature to suggest the wreck was the Endeavour.

HMS Endeavour off the coast of New Holland after being repaired. Painted in 1794 by Samuel Atkins.

Las Cinque Chagas (1559)

In 1594, a Portuguese ship named for the five wounds of Christ sailed for Lisbon from Goa with a cargo of 3,500,000 Portuguese Cruzados, plus 22 treasure chests of diamonds, rubies and pearls estimated to be worth well over $1 billion in today’s dollars—hundreds of years of rumors and legends claim it to be the richest ship to ever sail from Asia.

Las Cinque Chagas was a 1200-ton Portuguese carrack that was 150 feet long and 45 feet wide—an utter monster for that era. In addition to treasure it carried more than 1000 people, of whom 400 were reported to be slaves. (Imagine that, in such a small space.) But between the islands of Pico and Faial, she was attacked by British privateers—the Mayflower, the Royal Exchange and the Sampson—who attacked for two full days before she caught fire and went down off the coast of the Azores on July 13, 1594. It’s suspected that the wreck could lie in water as deep as 2,500 feet.

And so The Five Wounds remains the stuff of legend. It’s found in virtually every dive book of sunken treasure, both those for serious salvage operators and armchair dreamers.


The San Jose (1698)

The San Jose was a Spanish galleon that reportedly carried two tons of platinum along with emeralds and other gems valued at estimates ranging from $2 billion to $17 billion. It is the richest wreck of the Western hemisphere. In 1708, she ran into the British Navy off of the coast of Colombia during the War of Spanish Succession—and while trying to outrun them, sank in more than 800 feet of water. Fast forward nearly 300 years. A private company named Sea Search Armada—whose founders included the late actor Michael Landon—claims to have located the wreck. And it probably has. But political intrigue keeps this wreck and its treasure concealed by the waters still.

S.S. Waratah (1911)

The S.S. Waratah was a British passenger ship often called Australia’s Titanic—but it launched in 1908, four years prior to the actual Titanic. It had capacity for 750 passengers and 150 crew and made one round-trip voyage from London to Sydney. But on its second voyage, the ship was reportedly overweighted and prone to small fires breaking out from an uninsulated boiler. It disappeared somewhere near Cape Town, South Africa, in a historic shipwreck graveyard known for rough waters, bad weather, and rocky outcrops.

Made more famous by its parallels to the Titanic—both ships were considered technologically advanced, geared toward the wealthy, and wholly unsinkable—efforts to find the Waratah picked up in the 1980s. Groups of researchers have made at least six expeditions around the presumed wreck site with no luck. “I‘ve spent 22 years of my life searching for the ship,” Emlyn Brown, the chief wreck hunter, told The Guardian when he finally gave up in 2004. “I’ve exhausted all the options. I now have no idea where to look.”

S.S. Arctic (1854)

Map of North-West Atlantic showing position of collision between the ships Arctic and Vesta, 27 September 1854

The northwest Atlantic showing the position of the collision between the Arctic and Vesta in 1854 / Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Launched in 1850, the Arctic was luxurious and quick—able to cross the Atlantic in 10 days. The private ship was built with a generous subsidy from the U.S. government to help the American-based Collins Line compete with the British Cunard Line. Four years into its transatlantic service, the Arctic collided one night in 1854 with a French steamer near Newfoundland (incidentally, not far from where the Titanic disappeared along the same route heading in the opposite direction). At the time of its sinking, the Arctic was a tragedy that killed almost 300 people. But it was made worse by the horrifying revelation that the crew had scrambled into the too-few lifeboats and all the women and children on board had died.

The Arctic tragedy undercut the longstanding belief—which a 2012 study found to be largely a myth—that women and children are traditionally rescued first. Usually they’re last, if they’re rescued at all. Despite this embarrassing and avoidable tragedy, no inquiry was ever held in the U.S. or UK, and neither the ship nor its doomed passengers have ever been found.

What happens if You find a sunken treasure?

Although you might think the rules surrounding ‘finders keepers’ apply to a sunken treasure ship, this is unfortunately not true. Under salvage law, you must at least try to return the treasures to their rightful owner. As a result, upon discovery, you’d need to notify the government which controlled those waters.

Before you consider just not telling anyone, the IMO states dishonest conduct could invalidate any claim to the treasures.

Although you may be entitled to a percentage of the find in this case, a brighter future awaits you in international waters. If no one claims ownership of the sunken vessel, you could be allowed to take as much treasure as you can carry!!

How Morse Code Confused the World… What Does SOS Stand For?


A lot of people think that the distress signal is an abbreviation for “save our souls” or “save our ship.” But in reality, “save our souls” and “save our ship” are backronyms, and the letters don’t actually stand for anything.

In fact, the signal isn’t even really supposed to be three individual letters. It’s just a continuous Morse code string of three dots, three dashes, and three dots all run together with no spaces or full stops (…—…). Since three dots form the letter “S” and three dashes form an “O” in International Morse code, though, the signal came to be called an “SOS” for the sake of convenience. That connection has led to the letters coming into their own as a visual distress signal divorced from Morse Code, and those in need of rescue sometimes spell them out on the ground to be seen from above.

You could also break down the string into IJS, SMB and VTB if you wanted to.

To understand how the term SOS came into common use, we have to go back in time and look at morse code.

The beginnings of wireless communication

In the late 19th century, there was a lot of interest in the idea of wireless telegraphy—the concept of transmitting signals without wires. Guglielmo Marconi, a young Italian aristocrat with an interest in science, was one of the most prominent researchers in this field.

Publicity photo in a magazine of British-Italian radio entrepreneur Guglielmo Marconi with his early wireless radiotelegraphy transmitter and receiver, invented around 1895. On the left is his spark gap transmitter, consisting of a dipole antenna made of two brass rods with a spark gap between them, which transmits pulses of radio waves spelling out text messages in Morse code. On the right is his receiver, consisting of a coherer which rings a bell when it receives the dots and dashes of Morse code The bell and batteries are in the box. (Photo: Wikimedia)
Publicity photo in a magazine of British-Italian radio entrepreneur Guglielmo Marconi with his early wireless radiotelegraphy transmitter and receiver, invented around 1895. On the left is his spark gap transmitter, consisting of a dipole antenna made of two brass rods with a spark gap between them, which transmits pulses of radio waves spelling out text messages in Morse code. On the right is his receiver, consisting of a coherer which rings a bell when it receives the dots and dashes of Morse code The bell and batteries are in the box. (Photo: Wikimedia)

A series of private tutors educated Marconi at home. He never formally attended any college of higher education. That didn’t stop him from experimenting with radio waves as a basis for a wireless telegraphy system.

The butler did it

Twenty years old, and with a thirst for knowledge, Marconi began building his own equipment and conducting experiments. An interesting factoid that gets less attention than Marconi himself is that his butler, a man called Mignani, helped to build the first wireless machines.

After some initial success, Marconi had a working device that could send and send messages for up to 2 miles. But, he needed funding and support to continue his work. With little encouragement from the Italian government, Marconi moved to London. After a series of ever greater demonstrations, the first wireless transmission systems were born.

People used these machines to messages using a system of dots and dashes to represent individual letters. This was known as Morse code.

The Logic Behind “SOS”

So why use that specific string of dots and dashes if there’s no meaning to it? Because it was the best way to get the job done.

When wireless radiotelegraph machines first made their way onto ships around the turn of the 20th century, seamen in danger needed a way to attract attention, signal distress, and ask for help — a unique signal that would transmit clearly and quickly and wouldn’t be confused for other communications. At first, different organizations and countries had their own “in-house” distress signals. The U.S. Navy used “NC,” which was the maritime flag signal for distress from the International Code of Signals. The Marconi Company, which leased its equipment and telegraph operators to various ships, used “CQD.”  The “German Regulations for the Control of Spark Telegraphy” of 1905 mandated that all German operators use “…—…”.

Having these multiple distress signals was confusing and potentially dangerous. It meant that a ship in distress in foreign waters had a language barrier to overcome with would-be rescuers, even if using International Morse Code. Because of this and other issues, various countries decided to get together and discuss the idea of laying down some international regulations for radiotelegraph communications. In 1906, the International Wireless Telegraph Convention convened in Berlin, and delegates attempted to establish an international standard distress call. Marconi’s “-.-.–.–..”, and “………-..-..-..” (“SSSDDD”), which Italy had proposed at a previous conference, were deemed too cumbersome.  Germany’s “…—…”, though, could be sent quickly and easily and was hard to misinterpret. It was chosen as the international distress signal for the nations who met at the conference, and went into effect on July 1, 1908.

Blue Peter Fun Quizzes | Morse Code Mystery Quiz | Learn Morse Code - CBBC  - BBC

Early distress signals

Shipping became one of the early adopters of Marconi’s wireless system. Suddenly, and for the first time, vessels at sea could stay in contact with the land and each other, even when out of sight.

By the early 20th century, many vessels had wireless communication. It quickly became apparent that a universal distress call was necessary. The UK used a call sign of CQ for land-based, wired communications to identify a general message. The Marconi company suggested a signal of CQD as the general distress call for wireless operators.

Radio operator on a sinking ship, with the captain behind him, during the wireless telegraphy era prior to 1920 sending a call for rescue. (Image: Wikimedia/Helix84)
The radio operator on a sinking ship, with the captain behind him, during the wireless telegraphy era prior to 1920 sending a call for rescue. (Image: Wikimedia/Helix84)

International confusion

At the same time, Germany had begun to adopt a morse code sequence of three dots followed by three dashes followed by three dots as their distress code. Other nations and navies were using different call signs for their distress signals. This caused confusion on the high seas when different national vessels sent out calls for help.

At an international radiotelegraph convention held in Berlin in 1906, the world adopted the German morse code sequence as the standard global distress signal. The adopted international regulations described a series of dots and dashes with no reference to the alphabet. So, they did not officially call the original distress signal by the letters SOS.

SOS in its infancy

Since the international morse code representation of the letter S was three dots and the letter O three dashes, it wasn’t long before the distress signal became known as SOS. History records the first real SOS calls sent in 1909.

As with all things, it took a few years for previous practices to die out. During the Titanic disaster of 1912, telegraph operators used both the CQD and SOS distress signals. The initial confusion this caused may have been the deciding factor in the final phasing out of the CQD sign.

The Titanic, and in particular, the part that wireless transmissions played in saving lives, led to greater public recognition of Marconi and his invention.

SOS through the ages

SOS soon became the universal cry for help. People use it for more than simple wireless signals. Many stranded people have signaled for help with an SOS distress signal written in the sand, the snow, or with rocks. This has led to their rescue.

SOS is a palindrome and an ambigram. Meaning it is a word that reads the same both forward and backward and the right way up or upside down – a great help for spotters from the air looking down. This may have helped with the adoption of the SOS distress signal.

Developments in the use of distress messaging continued throughout the twentieth century. First, there were variations in the original SOS to specify the type of accident or emergency. Later, MAYDAY was added as a voice code signal.

During the Second World War, additional suffixes were added to the SOS distress call to communicate the type of attacking vessel. So, if under attack by a submarine the code SOS would have a following signal SSS, or an operator might use SOS RRR for a surface attack.


An early flaw with the distress signal was the reliance on the presence of radio operators at the telegraph machine when an SOS message was sent. If a distress signal was sent and the radio personnel were at lunch or asleep, no one would hear it.

Later versions of the telegraph machine included an automatic alarm that would sound to signal the receipt of an SOS message. Thus ensuring that someone would hear the SOS when the staff were not at their stations.

The alternative SOS

Interestingly, another well-known SOS doesn’t actually refer to the distress signal at all. The SOS in the name of the charity SOS Villages refers to the original name of the organization. Before it was known as SOS villages, the charity was a social club called Societas Socialis designed to raise funds for children in Austria. And so in this case, the SOS is actually an acronym.

Today, an SOS village is present in almost every country around the world.

The modern SOS

With the advent of modern communications equipment, the SOS signal has been in decline. These days, a single press of a button will broadcast a vessel’s emergency instantaneously to satellites orbiting overhead and emergency services will immediately know the vessel’s exact position.

Emergency beacons—EPIRBs and PLBs

An Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) is a small electronic device that, when activated in an emergency, can help search and rescue authorities pinpoint your position.

Once activated, EPIRBs continuously send out a signal for at least 48 hours. Search and rescue authorities respond to all EPIRB activations—you must only activate the EPIRB in an emergency and you must tell them immediately if you no longer need help.

All boats operating beyond smooth and partially smooth waters or more than 2nm from land in open waters must carry a 406MHz digital EPIRB.

But it’s unlikely the good old SOS will die out completely as long as someone uses it as a visual distress signal in pebbles on the beach of a deserted island.

The Guns Of The Old Wild West

Own a Gunfighter’s Favorite

Thanks to replicas, you can have a spitting-image, working copy of some of the Old West’s most colorful shootists’ famous guns.

Talk about expensive! Original guns used by the famous and infamous personalities of the Old West have become coveted collectibles. If not already in museum collections, such arms can cost five, six and sometimes seven figures, making them impossible for anyone of average means to afford. 

In the Rock Island Auction Company’s May 2021 auction, two notable 5½-inch barreled, 1873 Colt Peacemakers garnered hefty prices. A Colt Single Action (SA) used by the Dalton gang in the Coffeyville, Kansas, dual bank robbery sold for $138,000. And the last Colt SA personally ordered by frontier gunfighter W.B. “Bat” Masterson, hammered down at a whopping $488,750.

Recently, Bonhams of Los Angeles auctioned off the 7½-inch-barreled, Colt .44-40 SA, that Sheriff Pat Garrett used to kill Billy the Kid for an astounding $6,030,312. A Springfield Sporting Rifle, buried with James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok, went for $425,312, Robert Olinger’s shotgun went for $978,312, John Wesley Hardin’s Smith & Wesson sold for $625,312 and another Bat Masterson Colt sold for $375,312. (For more details on this auction, see “Collecting the West,” page 14). Obviously, purchasing an actual gun owned by a notable Western figure is out of the question for most of us.

It’s believed that James Butler Hickok, known as the “Prince of Pistoleers,” and shown here with his percussion Navies, carried cartridge conversion Navy Colts in his final days. In Uberti USA’s Outlaws and Lawmen series, this “Wild Bill” replica, a 7½-inch, .38 Special, octagon-barreled l851 Navy clone is offered. This handsome six‑shooter sports a blue and color case-hardened finish and simulated ivory stocks, similar to what Hickok would have packed. Photo of “Wild Bill” .38 courtesy Uberti USA/Hickok Photo from True West Archives

Thanks to the replica firearms industry, Italian-import clones of the actual “hardware” packed by Old West luminaries can be had at affordable prices, leading to in some cases, complete collections of replicas of their specific guns. These new/old guns look and operate like the originals, but fire modern factory smokeless ammunition, so they can be taken to the range or field and enjoyed like any other modern gun.

The following replica firearms are detailed copies of famous shooting irons used by the gunmen of the Wild West. For the sake of brevity, we’ll focus strictly on metallic cartridge firearms.

A number of firearms companies offer historic reproduction firearms. Outfits like Taylor’s & Company and Dixie Gun Works offer an extensive line of frontier-era revolvers, rifles and shotguns. C. Sharps Arms Co. custom builds 1874, 1875 and 1877 Sharps, 1885 High Wall, and Remington Hepburn rifles. Winchester offers new versions of its legendary 1866, 1873, 1886, 1892, 1894 and 1895 lever-action rifles, along with its 1885 single-shot High Wall rifle. And Marlin continues to turn out its long-popular Model 1894 and 1895 lever guns. Ruger, of course, produces its much-liked Vaquero single-action, peacemaker-styled revolver, with its traditional looks and modern internal workings. For this article we’re focused on replicas of the actual guns toted by historical figures.

Among the guns carried by lawman/army scout/gambler William Barclay “Bat” Masterson was a 5½-inch, ivory-stocked, nickeled and engraved .45 Colt Peacemaker. Cimarron Firearms offers a laser-engraved, Old Model copy of Bat’s original revolver. It features the circular “bullseye” ejector head, a squared-off front blade sight and the name “W.B. Bat Masterson,” laser-engraved on the back strap, like on the famed gunman’s original. Despite being fitted with the pre-1896 black powder frame, Cimarron’s Bat Masterson repro handles modern factory smokeless ammo. Masterson photo from True West Archives, replica revolver courtesy Cimarron Firearms


Cimarron Firearms has a few 1873 Colt
lookalikes designed to resemble the guns of legendary gunmen. They boast of laser engraving that is not as detailed as hand engraving, but neither is the price tag. Cimarron’s “Bat Masterson” revolver is patterned after one of the famed lawman/army scout/gambler’s Colts. This 5½-inch-barreled, nickeled six-shooter is an Old Model, pre-1896 black powder frame (handles .45 Colt factory smokeless ammo) like Bat’s 1880s Peacemakers, and sports a 5½-inch barrel, a squared-off front sight blade, circular “bullseye” ejector head, simulated ivory stocks, and like the original, wears “W.B. Bat Masterson” engraved on the back strap. Cimarron’s copy of cowboy president Teddy Roosevelt’s 1880s nickeled, 7½-inch-barreled Colt with the “TR” monogram on faux ivory stocks is also offered with laser engraving, and is a real beauty.

EMF’s tribute to General George S. Patton, is a replica of the famed six gun Patton used in the 1916 Punitive Expedition in Old Mexico, and then packed at his side during his legendary World War II exploits. It is a laser-engraved, stainless steel, 4¾-inch-barreled clone, and is available in .45 Colt or .357 Magnum. Courtesy EMF

Both Cimarron and EMF Co. offer handsome replicas of Gen. George S. Patton’s famed Peacemaker. While General Patton is usually associated with World War II, this fighting general made quite a name for himself during the 1916 Punitive Expedition in Mexico. As a young lieutenant out on a foraging patrol, Patton surprised three Mexican revolutionaries from Pancho Villa’s Brigada Del Norte and in a gun battle, shot each of the banditos and emerged an unscathed victor. Patton was credited with wounding all three, and killing two of them, with his 1873 Colt revolver. He went on to become one of the Second World War’s most successful generals and packed this famous Peacemaker throughout the war. Cimarron’s version is nickel-plated in the post-1896 pre-war style (cylinder base pin retaining screws on each side of the frame) and is laser engraved in the Cuno Helfricht style of Colt engraving, as was the general’s sidearm. It’s produced in .45 Colt, with the 4¾-inch barrel, has hand-fitted poly ivory grips with the “GSP” initials and a lanyard ring on the grip frame. 

EMF’s “Deluxe General Patton” copy is part of its Great Western II series of 1873 single-action revolvers. Its tribute to Patton is a handsome stainless steel pre-war model, correct 4¾-inch barrel and is offered in either the .45 Colt chambering, or in .357 Magnum. It sports factory laser engraving in the style of Patton’s original Colt, and wears simulated plain ivory grips. 

Single Action revolver fans will appreciate Uberti USA’s “Dalton,” a blue and color case-hardened, laser‑engraved peacemaker-styled SA, fitted with simulated ivory stocks. It’s a close copy of one of the .45 Colts actually used by the Dalton gang during their ill-fated Coffeyville, Kansas, dual bank robbery. It’s available as a .45 Colt, .38 Special, or .357 Magnum. Photo courtesy Uberti USA

Uberti USA has created the Outlaws and Lawmen Series, made to emulate those revolvers of the good and bad men of the West. It includes such six-shooters as “Frank,” a 7½-inch barreled, nickeled 1875 Remington model (one of Frank James’s favorite sidearms). It’s offered in .45 Colt, .38 Special or .357 Magnum. The “Teddy” model is a 5½-inch tubed ’73 Cattleman SA, featuring engraving similar to a Colt our cowboy president, Theodore Roosevelt, owned in his later years. It, too, comes in .45 Colt, .38 Special or .357 Magnum. The “Prince of Pistoleers,” James Butler Hickok was believed to have carried cartridge conversion Colts in his final days, and Uberti’s series includes the “Wild Bill,” a 7½-inch .38 special, octagon-barreled 1851 Navy replica that sports faux ivory stocks, like other guns Hickok was known to have. 

This writer’s favorite of the Uberti lineup is the “Dalton,” a blue and color case-hardened, laser-engraved peacemaker-styled SA, fitted with faux ivory stocks. It copies one of the .45 Colts used by the Dalton gang during their ill-fated Coffeyville, Kansas, dual bank robbery. It’s available as a .45 Colt, .38 Special or .357 Magnum. Other smoke wagons in the Outlaws and Lawmen Series include revolvers simulating weapons packed by gambler/gunfighter Doc Holiday and outlaws Billy the Kid, Jesse James and John Wesley Hardin. 


Some of the most coveted treasures from our Western past are shoulder arms. Cimarron offers a selection of rifles that are copies of the long arms that played major roles in conquering the Wild West. A trio of 32-inch, octagon-barreled “Billy Dixon Sharps” replicate the model 1874 Sharps Sporting Rifle like Dixon used during the June 1874 battle at Adobe Walls in Texas, when he dropped an Indian warrior from 1,538 yards (7/8 mile). These repros include two Pedersoli-made rifles (.45-90 and .45-70), and a more economically priced Armi Sport version (.45-70). Each model duplicates the look of the Hartford model ’74 Sharps, with the metal nose cap, and a blue and color case-hardened finish. 

Above: One example of Cimarron Firearms’ famous frontier replicas is this “McNelly,” 22-inch-barreled Sharps carbine. Ranger Captain Leander McNelly’s men were issued Sharps carbines like this, reworked from caplock to metallic cartridge .50-70 Govt. caliber. Cimarron’s repro comes in the commercially available, factory standard .45-70 Govt. round. (Below) This circa mid-1870s hombre, believed to be a Texas Ranger, could be one of McNelly’s Rangers who helped clean up the outlaw-infested Nueces Strip in southern Texas. He’s toting his cartridge conversion Sharps carbine, along with a holstered Colt revolver. Carbine photo courtesy Cimarron Firearms, period image from True West Archives

If your taste runs to military-style arms, the Armi Sport “McNelly” Texas Ranger .45-70, 22-inch round-
barreled Sharps carbine, like the M-1859 percussion Sharps issued to Leander McNelly’s Rangers in 1875, when he was ordered to rid Texas’s notorious Nueces Strip of the outlaw gangs operating there. Like the original 36 carbines purchased for the Rangers, Cimarron’s replica bears a “T↔S” stamping, but rather than being cham-bered for the now non-commercially manufactured .50-70 McNelly’s Sharps were chambered for, Cimarron’s clones are built to take the .45-70 cartridge, which is readily available in factory smokeless loads.

Even though buffalo hunter Matthew Quigley was not a “gen-u-wine” Old West frontiersman, actor Tom Selleck’s portrayal of the sharpshooter brought him life beyond the screen. His “costar,” the 1874 Sharps rifle, produced by the Shiloh Rifle Manufacturing Company was expressly crafted for the 1990 classic Quigley Down Under film, and together, the pair has become modern-day Wild West icons. Shiloh continues to custom build “Quigley” Sharps replicas, down to the last detail of the movie gun, including the customer’s initials (any initials except “M Q”) in gold, inlaid on the receiver. If you want a buffalo gun that shoots 1,200 yards, or in Quigley’s words, one that shoots “a mite further,” contact Shiloh.

Bob Dalton, who worked both sides of the law in the Indian Territory (Oklahoma) packed an engraved and pearl-stocked .45 Colt—one of ten ordered by the Dalton gang for their failed Coffeyville bank robbery. An original, well-documented Dalton Gang Colt, so embellished, sold at the Rock Island Auction Company’s May 2021 auction for a whopping $138,000. Ironically, Bob Dalton undoubtedly never made near that much money in all his honest and nefarious pursuits combined. True West Archives

Speaking of movies, the 1980 Western, Tom Horn starring Steve McQueen gave rise to an interest in the big 1876 Winchester lever-action rifle. Cimarron has brought out a re-creation of the blued-frame ’76 packed by McQueen, including a replica of the unique tang sight, similar to that seen on the silver screen rifle. This .45-60 caliber lever gun (as featured in the flick) also has a side plate with a facsimile of Horn’s actual signature engraved on it. 

One of Cimarron’s many unique and historical introductions to the replica world is its 22-inch-barreled, full-stocked round-barreled 1876 Winchester “NWMP Carbine.” This is a spitting image of those 1,261 Winchester ’76s issued to Canada’s North West Mounted Police who saw service from 1878 until 1914. Chambered for the powerful .45-75 cartridge, these lever-actions were used to put down the 1885 North West Rebellion, protect Canada’s borders during the Yukon Gold Rush of 1898 and later during the Alaska Boundary Dispute at the dawn of the 20th century. Cimarron’s detail-perfect copy features a full blue finish, tubular magazine, full stock with barrel band and blued metal fore-end, with the addition of the proper “NWMP” stamping in the stock. This model is chambered for the original .45-75 (350-grain bullet) cartridge. Cimarron also offers the 1876 Carbine in the “Crossfire” version, as featured in the popular 2001, Tom Selleck TNT movie Crossfire Trail. This civilian model, available in .45-75, or .45-60 (movie version) sports a blue barrel, magazine, barrel band and metal fore-end, but has a color case-hardened receiver, lever, trigger, hammer and butt plate. 

Although Henry Repeating Arms is perhaps best known for producing modern designs of lever-action rifles inspired by the repeaters of the Old West, the company also offers a selection of authentic, all American-made Model 1860 Henry rifles. Henry’s full-length historic replica rifle has a 24½-inch, blued octagon barrel, and comes in a choice of brass (.44-40 or .45 Colt) or iron (color case-hardened) receiver (.44-40 only) and butt plate. A 20½-inch, .44-40 octagon tubed, carbine model is also offered with brass receiver and butt plate, and two limited production of 1,000 each, brass or silver, engraved 1860-design Henry, .44-40 full-length rifles are offered. Each of the engraved models is hand-engraved and embellished, as were those presented to dignitaries and/or purchased as presentation pieces during the 1862-1866 period of the original Henry’s production. Henry also offers a special 200th Anniversary (limited to 200 copies) engraved, original style Henry rifle, commemorating the birth of this historic gun’s inventor, Benjamin Tyler Henry.

Above: In total, three 12-pound, 14.1-ounce, 34-inch octagon-barreled rifles, duplicating the movie rifle shown here, were custom built by Shiloh Rifle Manufacturing Company, for the 1990 film Quigley Down Under. This buffalo gun has gained such fame that Shiloh continues to produce “Quigley Models,” complete with the customer’s initials in gold, on the receiver. Below: This studio still photo reveals the scene when Tom Selleck, as Matthew Quigley, prepares to make his legendary long-range “bucket” shot, that introduced his Shiloh Sharps .45-110 rifle in the film. Rifle Photo courtesy Tom Selleck, “Quigley Down Under” still courtesy MGM

Shooters wanting a more modern-style “Old West” lever-action rifle should remember that Henry Repeating Arms carries a broad selection of dozens of rimfire and centerfire lever guns ranging from .22 rimfire to .44 Magnum, and even .45-70 chamberings. The newest additions to its lineup include the “Side Gate Lever Actions” in a variety of models and finishes. These side gate rifles allow for loading through the removable tubular magazine or via a more traditional lever gun side plate loading gate. 

Above: In this turn-of-the-20th-century photograph, North West Mounted Police officers display their British-inspired red tunics, dark blue trousers, boots, campaign hats and their 1876 Winchester carbines. Cimarron offers a spitting image copy of these famed firearms, complete with full blued finish, 22-inch round barrels, chambered for their original .45-75 cartridge (smokeless ammo available from Cimarron and other sources), and with “NWMP” stamped into the stock (below). NWMP photo from True West Archives, replica carbine photo courtesy Cimarron Firearms

Of course, since you can enjoy shooting these historic replicas, you’ll need fodder. Besides standard factory loadings, there are outfits that turn out Old West ammunition, and/or the reduced-velocity cowboy loads, ranging from small-bore revolver chamberings, up to the big rifle rounds. Check out the cowboy action offerings from Aguila, Black Hills Ammunition, Buffalo Arms, Fiocchi, HSM, Magtech, Tennessee Cartridge Co. and Winchester. Some of these firms even offer black powder ammo. Garrett Cartridges, which specializes in super hard cast “Hammerhead” hunting loads, also offers a nifty .45-70, 420-grain Springfield load, moving out at 1,350 feet per second, especially made for trapdoors and replicas.

Although best known for modern renditions of classic lever-action rifles, Henry Repeating Arms also offers a selection of all-American-made original-style, Model 1860 Henry repeaters. Henry is also producing limited runs of 1,000 each beautifully hand-engraved, in period embellishment (as photos reveal), brass or silver-framed Henry .44-40 lever action rifles. Henry is also offering 200 special 200th Anniversary hand-engraved original style Henry rifles (not shown), commemorating the birth of this historic gun’s inventor, Benjamin Tyler Henry. Photos courtesy Henry Repeating Arms

Remember, these replicas of the actual guns of the famed gunmen and organizations of the frontier are more than just wall hangers, they’re fun working guns that you can enjoy for plinking, competition or taking game with. Grab a re-created piece of history and relive the Wild West!

What Really Happened to The Franklin Expedition?

Face to face with a Franklin expedition crew member, 140 years later

Captain Sir John Franklin was both a highly regarded and popular naval officer to his contemporaries.

A veteran of the Battle of Trafalgar, a young officer in the first ship to circumnavigate Australia, the discoverer and surveyor of the south-western end of the hoped-for North-West Passage, and Lieutenant-Governor of Van Diemen’s Land where he was widely praised for his humane treatment of both the settlers and convicts.

He was known as ‘The man who ate his boots’ after surviving his crossings of northern Canada, and his ship HMS Rainbow was known as ‘Franklin’s Paradise’ when he refused to inflict flogging as a punishment.

Until the tragedy of Captain Scott, Franklin was always the exemplar of polar exploration despite his expedition’s tragic end.

Daguerreotype photograph of Franklin taken in 1845, prior to the expedition’s departure. He is wearing the 1843–1846 pattern Royal Navy undress tailcoat with cocked hat.

The expedition

When the Admiralty decided to mount a sea-borne expedition to discover the North-West Passage in 1845, the 59-year-old Franklin requested that his name be considered to lead the enterprise.

At first, the Admiralty were reluctant to comply due to his age, but his fellow officers with polar experience, including such illustrious names as John and James Ross, William Parry, Frederick Beechey, and George Back, supported Franklin and he was eventually selected.

The expedition was to take part with HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, two especially adapted and strongly built former bomb vessels in which much polar experience had already been obtained.

Fitted with former railway locomotives as additional sources of power, they also had the ship’s screws and rudders designed so that they could be lifted clear of the water if they were threatened by ice. Several of the officers had polar experience, and the ship’s companies were all volunteers.

The expedition sailed on 19 May 1845, calling at Stromness on Orkney, and at islands in West Greenland’s Disko Bay. After exchanging signals with two whaling vessels in Baffin Bay, Franklin, his men, and his ships disappeared after heading towards Lancaster Sound.

Urged on by Jane, Lady Franklin, in 1848 the Admiralty and the American Navy sent out search expeditions. The search ships entered Lancaster Sound and probed westwards along the Parry Channel and the graves of three of Franklin’s men were found on Beechey Island off the northern shore of the Channel.

The Arctic Council planning a search for Sir John Franklin by Stephen Pearce, 1851. Left to right are: George Back, William Edward Parry, Edward Bird, James Clark Ross, Francis Beaufort (seated), John Barrow Jnr, Edward Sabine, William Alexander Baillie Hamilton, John Richardson and Frederick William Beechey.

Uncovering evidence

Eventually, in 1859, a search expedition under the command of Captain Francis McClintock found the evidence for which they had all been searching.

A ship’s boat along with skeletons and other remains were discovered on the south-western coast of King William Island, an island at the southern end of Peel Sound.

Of even greater importance, McClintock’s deputy, Lieutenant William Hobson, found a message in a cairn on the north-western shore of the island."Victory Point" note

William Hobson and his men finding the cairn with the “Victory Point” note, Back Bay, King William Island, May 1859.

The note explained that Franklin’s ships had been deserted after two winters locked in the ice ‘5 leagues NNW’ of the landing site. Franklin had died in June, 1847, and the survivors landed on King William Island in the hope of making their way overland to the south. None were to survive the journey.

In the meantime, a Hudson’s Bay Company employee, John Rae, return to England with artefacts from Franklin’s expedition he had obtained from the local Inuit.

He also brought with him tales of cannibalism he claimed to have heard from the same Inuit, claims that were utterly rejected by all those who had known Franklin and his men. None of the Inuit had visited the site of the Franklin tragedy and none would escort Rae to the site.

Despite being just a few days march away – and ignoring rumours that his own men had heard that there were survivors of the expedition still alive – Rae raced across the Atlantic claiming that he did not know of any reward for finding evidence of the Franklin expedition and, furthermore, claiming that he had discovered the North-West Passage.

A revival of interest

The story of the Franklin expedition gradually faded into history only to be brought back into the glare of harsh publicity when a 1984-86 Canadian expedition led by academics disinterred the bodies on Beechey Island.

To a blaze of media attention, and the publication of a best-selling book, it was claimed that an examination of the dead (and by extension, all the seamen on the expedition) had revealed that they had died of lead poisoning.

Observations that such an idea was manifestly nonsense were totally ignored and dismissed out of hand. It was this reaction that led me to mount four expeditions to King William Island in order to make my own search, and to come to my own conclusions.

During 1992-93 other academic-led Canadian expeditions visited Erebus Bay, the site where McClintock had discovered the ship’s boat. A large number of human bones were found in a cairn where they had been deposited by an 1878 American expedition.

Much to the delight of the expedition leaders, the bones not only ‘confirmed’ the lead-poisoning claim, but ‘cut marks’ on some of the bones equally confirmed the Inuit tales spread by Rae.

Once again, any opposition to the expedition’s conclusions were swept aside or ignored. In a bid to set the cannibalism concept in concrete, in 2015, academics decided that some of the bones had been ‘pot polished’ as the devourers of their messmates boiled the bones in order to obtain the marrow contained therein.

In 2006, the Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, decided that scientists employed by the government should not be able to communicate directly with the media or with to the public.

In addition, all government documentation and other data should be either destroyed or held securely against publication. Scientific research was cut dramatically and scientists were dismissed in their hundreds. Research facilities and government libraries were closed down.

Then, also in 2006, a Bahamas-flagged ocean liner sailed through the North-West Passage and, the following year, the Russians made a claim to the North Pole and other Arctic areas based on

‘a broad range of scientific data collected over many years of Arctic exploration’,

although actually based on little more than a soil sample taken from the seafloor beneath the Pole and the dropping of a titanium Russian flag in the same place.

The quest for HMS Erebus and HMS Terror

By 2013, the Prime Minister began to take a political interest in the sovereignty of the Arctic. That year, a government-sponsored underwater expedition was mounted to examine the wreck of HMS Investigator, a Franklin search ship that had been abandoned by Commander Robert McClure when he led his surviving men on foot and sledge through the Passage.

The ship was easily found (it had been spotted from the air many years earlier). This led to a number of expeditions, both government sponsored and privately funded, in search of Franklin’s lost ships.

Again, no government employee was allowed to contact the media – all such contact had to be made through authorised government sources, closely supervised by a small coterie of senior Government officials.

The only exception to this ruling was the Chairman and former President of the Canadian Royal Geographical Society, the same individual who wrote the book about the early 1980s expeditions to Beechey Island (although he had never been on the expedition), and a close friend of the Prime Minister.

When the find was publicly announced (by the Prime Minister) there was worldwide recognition of a great achievement. Medals were invented and awarded – even to those who never came anywhere near the discoveries.Stephen Harper

Harper appearing at a gala at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto to celebrate the discovery of HMS Erebus, one of two ships wrecked during John Franklin’s lost expedition (Credit: Alex Guibord / CC).

The Canadian Arctic was secure in the hands of its proper owners – the Canadian people. Sovereignty was established, and an election was in the offing.

Then a rather strange thing happened. Academics and, at least one ‘celebrity’ decided that the success had to be underlined – not to further emphasise the Canadian achievements (which no-one was challenging) but by launching a sustained attack upon Franklin, the Royal Navy, and the English.

An internationally renowned Canadian novelist – not known for her polar expertise – described Franklin as ‘a dope’.

An American professor described the Franklin expedition as

‘a failed British expedition whose architects sought to demonstrate the superiority of British science over Inuit knowledge.’

A professor who took part in the Erebus Bay expedition declared that ‘the question of lead poisoning is settled.’ Another author trumpeted that Franklin’s widow mounted ‘a smear campaign’ against Rae ‘supported by racist writing from the likes of Charles Dickens’.

Refuting the cannibalism story

There were many more attacks on Franklin and his men, all of which ignored the multitude of questions that need answers.

For example, from 1984 to 2018, despite the evidence against lead poisoning, the matter was spread far and wide and was considered unanswerable – yet, in 2018 a genuine study using the simple method of comparison concluded that their finding

‘…did not support the hypothesis that the Franklin sailors were exposed to an unusually high level of Pb for the time period’.

On the question of cannibalism, the academics were adamant that the ‘cut marks’ on the bones at Erebus Bay were unchallengeable proof that the British seamen ate each other. Their reason for this nonsense was that the Inuit were ‘a stone age people’ who did not have access to metal.

In fact, the local tribe had already achieved a reputation for aggressively driving away other tribes using weapons made from a mountain of metal that Captain John Ross had left on their doorstep. Evidence that pointed to female and young male bones amongst those found at Erebus Bay was, at first, wholly misinterpreted, and then disregarded.

As for the ‘pot polishing’ claim, it was quietly forgotten that bones left on the rough, gritty surface of the Arctic are subjected over many years to the strong winds that not only throw more grit at them, but are also rolled or are scraped along the ground.

During his investigations into the idea that the Inuit attacked the seamen, I was approached by a well educated Inuit woman who bluntly told him that ‘My people killed your people.’ Nevertheless, a statue has been erected to John Rae on Orkney.John Rae, by Stephen Pearce (died 1904).

John Rae, painting by Stephen Pearce.

The locating of the ships was a magnificent achievement, but there were some questions, nevertheless, to be answered. How, for example, could a heavy ship’s fitting detach itself from a sunken ship, roll along the sea bottom, up a beach slope, and throw itself into the shingle to be found by accident?

How could a diver by the stern of a sunken ship indicate in detail the unique arrangements of the ship’s propeller and rudder when photographs of the vessel clearly show that the stern had been completely destroyed?

Why is the size and design of the ship’s bell completely against the ‘custom of the Service?’ And why has the ship’s wheel shrunk from the large, double, version seen in the photograph before the expedition sailed, to the small version found that would have been more suitable for a sailing yacht?

How did the masts of one of the ships remain clear of the water long enough for a 21st-century Inuit to spot them, yet not be noticed by professional seamen like McClintock and others who walked along the same shore – then to have disappeared when the man returned just a few days later?

All these questions and many more, based on my thirty-six years’ service in the Royal Navy and four expeditions to walk across the ice and land of the scene of the tragedy, are explored in No Earthly Pole.

2021 Bentley GT Mulliner Convertible, The Most Gorgeous Convertible !


The signature craftmanship of Bentley Mulliner is apparent throughout this consummate vehicle, with a level of detail that has the power to surprise and delight. From mood lighting and illuminated sill plates that bear the Mulliner name, to hand-stitched headrests, embroidered with the distinctive accent colour of your chosen interior colourway, every inch is luxuriously refined and considered. This is echoed in the 3-colour, handcrafted presentation box which houses the keys to your car upon purchase in two leather key pouches– a memorable keepsake.

The Continental GT Mulliner‘s agile V8 engine featuring the emotive Bentley burble, can reach 0 to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds (0 to 100 km/h in 4.0 seconds) before powering on to a top speed of 198 mph (318 km/h). Expect effortless handling and smooth acceleration in any environment. 

Lancia Delta Is Back From The Dead In 2026!

But as you can probably guess, it’ll be an EV.

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Earlier this year, we got wind that Stellantis may finally put some action into saving the legendary Lancia brand, and why not? The company has some truly iconic cars in its archives, including the inimitable Stratos and the breathtaking 037. Sadly, the closest we’ve come to seeing the revival of these uber cool names has been from third-party tuners and designers, but now we finally have the glorious news we’ve been wishing for: Lancia has confirmed that it will be resurrecting the brand’s most well-known car, the Delta. The news comes via Corriere della Sera, an Italian publication that recently had an interview with Lancia’s new CEO Luca Napolitano.

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In the interview, Napolitano says that everyone at Lancia is aware of the love people have for the Delta: “Everyone wants the Delta and it cannot be missing from our plans. It will return and it will be a true Delta: an exciting car, a manifesto of progress and technology. And of course, it will be electric.” Details are scant, but Corriere della Sera speculates that we’ll see a platform that can offer up to 435 miles of range off a single charge. This will likely be completed in 2026 when Lancia will sell only pure-electric vehicles. That means that its current offering in Italy, an obscure car called the Ypsilon, will be replaced in 2024 as the last combustion-powered Lancia.

While it may be disappointing that the revived Delta won’t be a turbocharged, AWD rival to the likes of the Volkswagen Golf R, Napolitano says that electrification makes sense for the brand. “We will build cars with a great sense of responsibility towards the world we live in, as our customers want a clean drive, and the revolution towards pure electric is in line with our tradition of great technological innovation,” says the CEO. To help the brand achieve its goals, it will reportedly be aiming to launch a new dealership network from scratch in Europe, with the cooperation of the existing Alfa Romeo and DS dealers. There’s no word on whether to expect the new Delta to be sold in the US, but if the brand manages to successfully revive itself in Europe, other markets will surely be on the cards in due time.

The $1m+, fully electric Aston Martin DB6

Lunaz electric Aston Martin DB6 Top Gear 2021

No, it’s not Bond’s Aston but do pay attention, because it is quite gorgeous. It is a fully restored Aston Martin DB6, filled with dreams, potential questions from surprised onlookers and a fair whack of electricity.

That’s right, Aston’s venerable 4.0-litre sixer has been relegated in favour of British engineering company Lunaz’s “proprietary modular electric powertrain”, developed in-house using Euro battery cells and motors. This is the same Lunaz that built an entirely delectable Bentley S1 and got investment from one Mr David Beckham.

The DB6 marks the completion of Lunaz’s desire to Electrify The Cool British Classics; we’ve seen that Bentley, a simply majestic Rolls-Royce Phantom V, and now there’s this. Back in 2015, we got a ‘holy trinity’ of LaFerrari, 918 and P1. In 2021, electrified classics. Sign o’ the times indeed.

As with anything Lunaz undertakes, the DB6 is inspected, weighed and measured, after which its engine and associated paraphernalia are “sensitively removed” and stored. The entire car is 3D-scanned and then stripped to its base metal underpinnings and reshaped “entirely in the client’s image”; that is to say, anything the client wants, the client gets.

As long as it’s electric, of course. The DB6’s powertrain has been specifically programmed by Lunaz to allow for “brisk initial acceleration with the requirements of a classic car that is very much built in the mode of a Grand Tourer”. It reckons on a range of around 255 miles, which is probably more than most DB6s cover in a year.

Lunaz electric Aston Martin DB6 Top Gear 2021
Lunaz electric Aston Martin DB6 Top Gear 2021

As you’d expect, the brakes, suspension and steering have all been “uprated”, while there’s air conditioning, wifi, sat nav and modern infotainment options. Indeed, other creative ideas are welcomed; Lunaz design director Jen Holloway said: “We are proud to introduce the quintessential British GT, remastered for a new generation.”

She used to work as a lead in Aston Martin’s Q-Branch, so there’s star-quality pedigree in customisation right there. You can go traditional, or contemporary, including recycled textiles and so forth. Maybe even some oil slicks or a bullet-proof windscreen if you ask nicely enough, though we wouldn’t hold our breath on headlight-mounted miniguns…

Speaking of which, Lunaz has confirmed that while it intends on building this DB6 for around $1m plus local taxes (with deliveries scheduled for 2023) it will also electrify, strictly upon application, an Aston Martin DB4… and an Aston Martin DB5. As 007 said in Goldfinger, ‘shocking, positively shocking’.

Lunaz electric Aston Martin DB6 Top Gear 2021

The Gorgeous EVO37 Lancia Tribute Car Exudes Perfection

Kimera Automobili will only produce 37 examples.

Kimera Automobili EVO37 Lancia Tribute Car

Italian automotive design firm Kimera Automobili just revealed the EVO37, a tribute car to the legendary Lancia 037 of 1980s rally racing fame. The EVO37 is a reimagined modern version of the cult-status 037, the last rear-wheel-drive rally car to win a championship title in the World Rally Championship (WRC).

Kimera Automobili EVO37 Lancia Tribute Car 01

Developed as part of the FIA Group B homologation rules, the Martini Racing team drove the Lancia 037 in WRC races from 1982 to 1986. A supercharged 2.0-liter inline-four mated to a ZF-sourced five-speed manual transmission propelled the 037 through the tough terrain that marks WRC racing. The Abarth and Pininfarina-designed rally car’s little four-pot generated 205 hp and 165 lb-ft of torque, which helped it win several victories during its rally racing run. The four-wheel-drive Lancia Delta S4 would later replace the iconic 037.

Renowned engineer Claudio Lombardi, responsible for the Delta S4 engine, helped develop the powertrain of the EVO37. Re-engineered by Italtecnica under the direction of Lombardi, the new car’s reworked turbo-four produces 505 hp and approximately 406 lb-ft of torque. Power goes to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual or a six-speed sequential transmission.

Kimera Automobili EVO37 Lancia Tribute Car 03

The gritty and gorgeous EVO37 exudes perfection. This restomod was built from the ground up using a central cage based on the Lancia Beta Montecarlo. The vibrant red EVO37 maintains the exterior lines and shapes of the original 037. It comes fitted with rally-inspired wheels wrapped in Pirelli rubber, as well as Brembo brakes, adjustable Öhlins shock absorbers, and carbon-fiber body panels. The EVO37 has a completely overhauled interior, too, and it comes fitted with carbon-fiber trim, leather and Alcantara upholstery, and Delta S4-inspired sport seats, which are lined in either leather or Alcantara.

Kimera Automobili will only produce 37 examples of this muscularly sculpted work of art, of which 11 have already sold. Plan on spending at least €480,000 (about $586,100 at current exchange rates) to call one of these machines your own. The EVO37 will make its official debut at the 2021 Goodwood Festival of Speed in July.