Thursday, 9 March 2017

Stories from Beyond the Grave

Atlantic Ocean

    On Wednesday I went for a walk through the churchyard of, St Michael's Parish Church, in Linlithgow, Scotland. The church sits adjacent to, Linlithgow Palace and Loch, therfore, as it was a nice day it was the ideal place to get some excercise.

View from Wyville Thomson's grave

    I know that going for a stroll through an old churchyard isn't everyone's cup of tea, however it is mine. Solely, because I think its full of interesting people; dead yes, but, interesting. Each body buried there has a story to tell.

View of Palace and Loch from grave

   Walking amongst the headstones I found that many were illegible, but  I did find one overlooking the Loch, with the name, Charles Wyville Thomson etched on it. It caught my attention because the word, Knight, was engraved beside his name. This gentleman had a story to tell.

St Michael's Church, Linlithgow, A stain glass window here is dedicated to Wyville Thomson

    He died on 10th of March 1882 at the age of fifty-two years of age, and had is knighthood bestowed upon him by, Queen Victoria in 1876 for his service to science. On the gravestone it stated that he was a Naturalist, and that he most certainly was.

    Persuading the navy to lend him two ships, removing the ships guns, replacing them with dredging, trawling and oceanography equipment, Wyville as he wanted to be called, embarked on a three-and-a-half year adventure. Taking up the post of, chief scientist on the mother ship, HMS Challenger, he covered 70,000 miles, and recorded in excess of 4,000 new species of ocean life. 

    The work he did on, The Challenger Expedition, transformed the future of oceanography. The Wyville Thomson Ridge, in the North Atlantic Ocean, between the Faroe Islands and Scotland being named after him and NASA's space shuttle, Challenger, named so in recognition of the expedition.

    His findings are documented in, Depths of the Sea, published in 1873 and The Voyage of the Challenger in the Atlantic, published two volumes in 1877.

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