Skip navigation

Antarctic conservation

2 Posts tagged with the socks tag
0

Full circle

Posted by Conservators Dec 22, 2011

Author: Lizzie Meek
Date: 1 December 2011
Temperature: -1.4 oC
Wind Speed: 3 Kts
Temp with wind chill: C
Sunrise: N/A
Sunset N/A


LM blog image 1 resized.jpg
Cape Evans and snow © AHT/Lizzie

 

During the months of January-October whilst working in the AHT offices in Christchurch, I am often emailed queries and photographs (or as I like to think of them ‘presents’) relating to artefacts the conservators are working on at Scott Base over the winter months. But I still only see a small percentage of the some 1300 artefacts the team has handled during that time.
Now, here we are at Cape Evans in December, it’s snowing outside, and all of a sudden it feels like Christmas: John and I are unwrapping hundreds of objects to return them to their hut locations.


LM blog image 2 resized.jpg

A woollen jersey returned to Cape Evans this season © AHT/Lizzie

 

You get a very unique and interesting perspective on life in Antarctica 100 years ago when you see about 60 different pairs of socks in a row, some hand knitted, some machine-made, most of them darned or patched. We’ve been commenting on the limited colour palette of brown, grey, khaki, black and dark blue, and get quite excited by small flashes of bright colour. I like to think they took their polka dot Sunday socks home with them on the ship.

 

LM blog image 3 resized.jpg

A Wolsey sock on Day’s bunk © AHT/Lizzie

 

There’s a great sense of completion as we see objects returned to their place in the hut, with form and detail more fully revealed, but without removing the signs of age and use from the heroic era. So to the winter conservators, Sarah, Martin, Julie and Jane, thank you for your skill and hard work, and for my early Christmas presents!

0

Signs in the sock

Posted by Conservators Mar 28, 2011

Posted by Sarah

 

Date:           22/3/11
Temperature: -12
Wind Speed: 15 knots
Temp with wind chill: -28
Sunrise:           7:51
Sunset           20:07


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.

 

AHT8957 detail small resized.jpg

Label on sock belonging to Apsley Cherry-Garrard © AHT/Sarah

 

AHT5919 close up resized.jpg

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. 

 

AHT5919_1!_Side1_BT resized.jpg

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?