Explorer’s 1910 Notebook Found In Ice

New Zealand’s Antarctic Heritage Trust reports that a notebook dating from the last expedition of legendary British explorer Robert F. Scott was found preserved in ice in an Antarctic hut. Researchers found the relic during this year’s annual thaw, settled in the heart of the Antarctic, outside the 1911 Terra Nova base.

The notebook dates back to 1910-1913 and belonged to George Murray Levick, a surgeon, zoologist, and the doomed Terra Nova expedition’s official photographer. Scott, along with four other members of the ill-fated expedition, died in March of 1912, after reaching the South Pole and becoming trapped by harsh conditions.

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Titled the Wellcome Photographic Exposure Record and Diary 1910, Levick’s notebook includes photographs he captured in 1911 at Cape Adare as part of the mission’s Northern Party. The Trust says the book also contains pencil notes of dates, subjects and exposure details, and was documented before the crew faced bad weather of their own, leaving them to spend the Antarctic winter isolated in an ice cave on Inexpressible Island.

“It’s an exciting find. The notebook is a missing part of the official expedition record,” Antarctic Heritage Trust’s executive director, Nigel Watson, said in a news release. “After spending seven years conserving Scott’s last expedition building and collection, we are delighted to still be finding new artifacts.”

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Close examination of the book reveals links between the transcriptions in it and photographs held by the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge, that have been traced to Levick as well.

Uncovered in 2013, the journal’s binding had dissolved over the past century due to exposure to water and ice. As a result, preservationists like French paper conservator, Aline Leclercq, digitized the pages by separating, stabilizing, and cleaning each individual page to sew them back together. The cover remnants were also reconstructed.

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The book has since been returned to Scott’s last expedition base at Cape Evans in Antarctica, where 11,000 other artifacts are stored.

Captain Robert F. Scott, also known as “Scott of the Antarctic,” led the Terra Nova expedition in hopes of being the first to reach the geographical South Pole. However, when he and team arrived on January 17, 1912, they discovered Norwegian team led by Roald Amundsen had already arrived over a month earlier.