Page last updated at 00:16 GMT, Saturday, 1 November 2008

Dig finds camp of 'real Crusoe'

By Paddy Clark
BBC News

The famous Robinson Crusoe story was inspired by real events

Archaeologists have unearthed evidence of the campsite of a marooned sailor who is said to have inspired the fictional castaway Robinson Crusoe.

The findings, carried in the journal Post-Medieval Archaeology, follow digs on a Pacific island west of Chile.

Daniel Defoe is believed to have based Crusoe on Alexander Selkirk, a Scotsman rescued from the island in 1709.

Evidence suggests the sailor built two shelters near a stream, with a look-out point to watch for approaching ships.

The island used to be known as Aguas Buenas, but has been renamed Robinson Crusoe Island after the character created by Defoe in his 18th Century classic.

The team also unearthed a pair of navigational dividers from the period, which they believe belonged to Selkirk.

The captain of the ship which found Selkirk referred to a number of mathematical instruments in his possession.

He also spoke of Selkirk shooting wild goats to help his survival on the Pacific island, although there were no relics of that activity.

David Caldwell, from National Museums Scotland, said: "The evidence uncovered at Aguas Buenas corroborates the stories of Alexander Selkirk's stay on the island and provides a fascinating insight into his existence there.

"We hope that Aguas Buenas, with careful management, may be a site enjoyed by the increasing number of tourists searching for the inspiration behind Defoe's masterpiece."

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