Skip navigation
0

Southern Food Cache

Posted by Conservators Dec 20, 2012

Author: Karen

Date: 06 December 2012

Temperature: -3

Wind Speed: -17

Sunrise: N/A

Sunset: N/A

 

 

This week I have been helping Jana process certain artefacts.  One of my tasks included hauling the Polk (similar to a sledge) up the hill from Scott’s hut to the expedition’s southern food cache in order to return previously conserved tins and boxes.  Once we brushed off the new snow that had fallen overnight, Jana identified the next batch of wooden boxes for conservation (containing flour and pearl barley) and we duly put them on the Polk and transported them back to the field laboratory.  

 

Image 1 Southern food cache.jpg

Southern food cache © AHT/Karen

 

The southern food cache is the largest surviving collection of food from Captain Scott’s British Antarctic Expedition (1910-1913).  It includes the bulk of the stores but not glass items, which would have broken if left outside.  The cache is located on the top of the ridge behind the hut, where the wind kept the supplies clearer of snow.  Scott and his men moved the food cache before the second winter as during the first winter their supplies (kept near the hut) were snowed in due to the immense amount of blizzards and snow which fell in the first winter.

 

Image 2 Jana identifing artefacts.jpg

Jana identifying artefacts for conservation © AHT/Karen

 

I was amazed to see the quantity of food stored and still in situ; there were boxes of Huntley and Palmers biscuits, crates of Irvine Bros Family Lard and boxes of Fry’s Cocoa, to mention just a few.  Some of the tins were in remarkable condition considering they have been open to the harsh Antarctic weather for more than 100 years. The boxes and food we collected will be conserved then returned to the cache where they were found.

1

Author: Karen

Date: 2 December 2012

Temperature: -7°C

Wind Speed: 10 knots

Temperature with Wind Chill: -15°C

 

After over six years with the Trust as Administration Officer, I was given the opportunity to visit Antarctica to assist the team during a busy period.  I was both extremely excited and concerned at the same time, since I was told that the majority of my time involved camping in a tent at Cape Evans (the site of Captain Scott’s second expedition base).  Having never camped before, this was worrying, but I was not going to let that get in the way of such a remarkable opportunity.

I arrived at Cape Evans by Hagglund, it took approximately one and half hours from Scott Base.  Walking into Scott’s hut for the first time was very emotional: even after seeing thousands of photos, they did not prepare me for the feelings stirred.  When I stepped inside I immediately noticed a distinctive smell, it took a few seconds before I realised it was the blubber stack, (left behind by the Ross Sea Party) stored in the western annexe.  After over 100 years the smell was still extremely strong. It was like I’d been transported back in time and I was back in 1911, all was very real, in fact I was expecting to turn around and see Scott or one of the men from his party sitting at the wardroom table. 

Walking around Scott’s hut I found myself thinking how noisy it must have been with 25 men living in the hut when it was first built in January 1911, but today it was eerily quiet, all I could hear was the wind howling around outside.

 

KC Blubber.jpg

Stack of blubber in the Western annexe, Cape Evans

CE western annexe.jpg

Veiw of the Western annexe, Cape Evans

1

Freezer Ingenuity

Posted by Conservators Dec 13, 2012

Author: Kevin

Date: 28 November 2012

Temperature: -4 degrees celcius, sunny and bright

Wind speed: 5 knots

 

We have now been at Cape Evans, the site of Captain Scott's Terra Nova hut for the last three weeks or so. Our daily work pattern is now well established. Morning meeting and radio schedule with Scott Base at 07.30am, then off to work until 11.00am when we stop for first lunch, then work again until 3.00pm when second lunch beckons. Final work period is over at 7.00pm with dinner at around 7.30pm.

 

We take it in turns to cook, so as there are only four of us on site, it comes around pretty quickly, with some people looking forward to it more than others, as spending your day digging out one hundred year old marrow fat lard from tins has been known to dampen the appetite!

 

Over the last week or so we have been lucky to have good weather with temperatures above -5 and lots of sunshine, giving us beautiful views of Mount Erebus and the Barne Glacier. Whilst this may seem good to those far away, it leaves us with a dilemma. We rely on snow banks for our fresh water and keeping our fresh food frozen. The fine weather sees the banks literally melting away in front of our very eyes and we still have two more months on site.

 

This morning our "freezer" was looking decidedly worse for wear so it was time for improvements. More snow was packed on top and around the sides and a better door was fitted. All courtesy of the carpenters used timber stack.

Blog 5.jpg

Freezer looking a bit sorry for itself

Blog1.jpg

Freezer on its way to a new look (Barne Glacier in the background)

0

The Little Joys

Posted by Conservators Dec 3, 2012

Author: Martin Wenzel

Date: 20/11/2012

Temperature: -6 degrees celcius

Wind Speed: 14 knots

Wind Chill : -20 degrees celcius

Sunrise: n/a

Sunset: n/a

 

About a week ago I started  working on fuel storage boxes found  around Robert Falcon Scott's expedition hut at Cape Evans. They were used to transport fuel tanks for the motor sledges that turned out to be not very  successful in Antarctic conditions. Conserving large numbers of these and other historic boxes which are in all states of disrepair, and come in a variety of styles and conditions, requires a lot of patience. And yet it is still fascinating when boxes have little surprises in store, provide a new structural challenge or show a particular nice piece  of wind sculpted timber.

 

Missing part of a board yesterday, and contemplating how to secure what was left over, I started looking through some debris found around the box. And there it was - clearly the missing piece but looking quite different. The piece attached to the box was weather worn and had lost up to 2mm of thickness through abrasion while the found piece had been protected for a hundred years and looked almost new. Joining them again looked a bit unusual but provided  the structural integrity needed. It is only a matter of time until the found piece will adjust its appearance.

1.jpg

Same board, but a different look

2.jpg

One board again.