Posted by Sarah
Wind Speed: 15 knots
Temp with wind chill: -28
What, you may ask, can a humble sock tell us about the heroic era of exploration? Well quite a lot if you know what to look for. Many of the explorers on Captain Scott’s 1910 Terra Nova Expedition stitched name tags in their sock, while others used simple colours stitches to indicate whose they were. In fact we still do similar things today with our matching Antarctic New Zealand issue clothes, using coloured ribbons. So these name tags give us a direct and very personal link to individual explorers such as Apsley Cherry-Garrard.
Label on sock belonging to Apsley Cherry-Garrard © AHT/Sarah
Detail of embroidered ‘name tag’ © AHT/Sarah
But there is more. Many of the socks are so well worn, they have been darned, patched and re-patched, this speaks of a make do culture, where everything was valued and repaired. These repeatedly patched socks very often indicated reuse by the subsequent Ross Sea Party from Shackleton’s 1914 Trans-Antarctic Expedition. Not having enough of their own clothes they had to make, repair and reuse whatever they could from the previous expedition.
Sock from Cape Evans © AHT/Sarah
More evidence of use can be found in the dirt and detritus left behind on the socks. Some are covered in reindeer fur from sleeping bags - were they bed socks? Others are thick with seal blubber and soot - who in the Ross Sea Partly wore these to gather and burn seal blubber with?
Have you any idea who the sock in the picture belonged to? Is the straw stuck to the heel from the padding inside a boot or is if pony fodder?