In memoriam. Captain Robert Falcon Scott, 6 June 1868 to 29 March 1912.
Portrait of Scott by expedition photographer Herbert Ponting, and Memorial cross image below, courtesy of Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge. Select images to enlarge them.
Today marks the centenary of Captain Robert Falcon Scott's last diary entry on 29 March 1912. It is thought to be the day Scott died.
Scott's last words from his famous diary read: 'We shall stick it out to the end, but we are getting weaker of course, and the end cannot be far. It seems a pity but I do not think that I can write any more.'
Inside our Scott exhibition, the final exhibits showing the iconic cairn cross adorned with Scott's last messages home, next to the belongings found in the tent where his frozen body and those of Henry Bowers and Edward Wilson were discovered, are among the most haunting in the gallery.
Scott is assumed to be the last to perish of the five-strong Polar party. It's likely he died on 29 March 1912 in the tent where he, Bowers and Wilson sheltered from the unrelenting blizzards, their food provisions gone. A depot containing enough supplies to get them back to base camp was just 11 miles away. The legendary cairn cross photo (above) was taken by the search party who found the tent and the frozen bodies 8 months later on 12 November 1912. In tribute they made a great cairn of ice over the tent and bodies and fashioned a cross from skis. A sledge was thrust into a smaller cairn nearby.
Next to the huge cairn cross display in the exhibition, you'll see some of the belongings retrieved from the tent where Scott, Bowers and Wilson were found. A theodolite, Wilson's sledging diary, the green satchell in which Scott kept his diary, and Scott's own silk embroidered British flag inscribed with the words 'Ready, Aye, Ready' are among them. Near these exhibits, there's the chance to turn the pages and read extracts from Scott's virtual diary, and listen to them too.
Some months after the search party found Scott, an official Memorial cross was erected at Observation Hill on Ross Island, Antarctica, where it still stands today (left).
The Memorial cross bears the names of the five men who were lost, Capt R. F. Scott, Dr E. A. Wilson, Capt. L. E. C. Oates, Lt H. H. Bowers, and Petty Officer E. Evans, and words from Tennyson's Ulysses poem:
'To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield'.
Today, members of the Museum's staff attended the moving Scott commemorative ceremony at St Paul's Cathedral where 2,000 people gathered from all over the world.
Outside St Paul's earlier today, a Museum spokesman said: 'It's remarkable to see how Scott's legacy influences us still, 100 years on. It was simply extraordinary to be there.'
Earlier in the week, we welcomed special guests from the British Services Antarctic Expedition team to our Scott exhibition to see rocks and fossils collected by Scott's team which are kept in our collections.
As well as the personal stories and everyday objects that played a part in this epic Polar journey, you'll also discover some of the many scientific specimens including geological samples that were found with the last three perished. Come and visit. Scott's Last Expedition is also open late every last Friday of the month.
Read the news story about the British Services Antarctic Expedition team visiting the Museum and recreating Scott's last birthday meal in the Terra Nova base camp hut