Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education



Front Page

World

UK

UK Politics

Business

Sci/Tech

Health

Education

Sport

Entertainment

Talking Point
On Air
Feedback
Low Graphics
Help

Tuesday, January 26, 1999 Published at 15:47 GMT


World

Scott's artefacts back on ice

Made it: Scott (holding Union Jack) party at the South Pole

A collection of artefacts from Captain Robert Scott's ill-fated bid to become the first man to reach the South Pole have been returned to Antarctica 40 years after they were removed.


Richard Wilson reports from Antarctica
The items, including a lamp, medicines and a bottle of linseed oil, were handed over by the British Environment minister Michael Meacher on a visit to the hut used by the explorer.


MP Michael Meacher describes returning the items
They were taken by a New Zealand officer during an Antarctic expedition in the late 1950s.

Late last year, the artefacts were offered for sale by the auction house Christies, but the UK Government worked to get them back.


[ image: Scott's hut: preserved in ice]
Scott's hut: preserved in ice
Mr Meacher carried the items from the Scott Polar Institute in Cambridge, where they had been held, to Cape Evans in Antarctica where he is attending a foreign ministers meeting.

"It's very sad that individual took them, and I'm very glad we managed to forestall the sale before it took place," Mr Meacher said.

Some of the items had been left behind by Earnst Shackleton's marooned Ross Sea Party who used the hut for a time a couple of years after Scott.

Handover

Mr Meacher handed the items to the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust, the organisation which takes care of Scott's hut as well as other historical sites in the region.


[ image: Precious cargo: The arefacts were hand delivered]
Precious cargo: The arefacts were hand delivered
"The items are not important in themselves its just their symbolic historical significance. They are items among hundreds of items but they are being preserved and it is important that we do keep them in their proper place historically," Mr Meacher said.

The hut, which was home to the British Antarctic Expedition of 1910-13, remains well-preserved aided by the continent's extreme low temperatures and dry climate.

"It was the atmosphere of a cathedral about ensuring that one's boots were clean that there was no pollution being brought in and there was no damage to any of the items," Mr Meacher said.

Failed mission


[ image: Mr Meacher unwraps a candle lantern]
Mr Meacher unwraps a candle lantern
Although Scott and his party reached the pole on 17 January 1912, they were 33 days behind Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen. Scott and his team died in blizzards on their return journey less than 12 miles from a supply point.

Dr John Heap, Chairman of the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust, said he was relieved that Christies and the collector agreed to withdraw from the September sale.

He said he could understand how the items came to be removed in the first place.

"In around 1957, the people who then saw the famous Scott and Shackleton huts were the first to see them for about 40 years - they were filled with ice and snow and they looked like thorough wrecks. At that time it seemed almost to be doing the right thing to be taking them away," he said.

The New Zealand Antarctic Policy Unit said over the years "hundreds if not thousands of items" had been taken from the preserved expedition huts.

A spokesman said a "trickle" of them were now being returned.



Advanced options | Search tips




Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©




Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia



Relevant Stories

26 Jan 99 | Sci/Tech
Ice Cool in Antarctica

25 Jan 99 | Sci/Tech
Ministers brave Antarctica on ice

26 Jan 99 | Europe
Scott artefacts returned

24 Jan 99 | Sci/Tech
Protecting Antarctica's future





Internet Links


Scott Polar Research Institute

International Centre for Antarctic Information and Research

Antarctic Heritage Trust


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.




In this section

From Business
Microsoft trial mediator appointed

Violence greets Clinton visit

From Entertainment
Taxman scoops a million

Safety chief deplores crash speculation

Bush calls for 'American internationalism'

Hurricane Lenny abates

EU fraud: a billion dollar bill

Russian forces pound Grozny

Senate passes US budget

Boy held after US school shooting

Cardinal may face loan-shark charges

Sudan power struggle denied

Sharif: I'm innocent

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

India's malnutrition 'crisis'

Next steps for peace

Homeless suffer as quake toll rises

Dam builders charged in bribery scandal

Burundi camps 'too dire' to help

DiCaprio film trial begins

Memorial for bonfire dead

Spy allegations bug South Africa

Senate leader's dismissal 'a good omen'

Tamil rebels consolidate gains

New constitution for Venezuela

Hurricane pounds Caribbean

Millennium sect heads for the hills

South African gays take centre stage

Lockerbie trial judges named