17 January 2011
When I visited Antarctica last January, the talk was all about the discovery of the Scotch that was found buried under Shackleton’s hut at Cape Royds. Five cases in all were found frozen in the ice beneath the hut.
The dry cold of Antarctica preserves everything in a state of suspended animation. Jeep tracks in the dry valleys from 60 years ago are still visible. A carved cross by Robert Falcon Scott’s men still stands near McMurdo.
Under the Antarctic treaty, anything on the ice before 1950 is historic and must remain there, but an exception was made to allow one case to be returned to the UK. The company that made it is still going!
The other cases will be returned to their resting place, and very likely remain there as part of the monument to the early explorers. The hut at Cape Royds is in decent shape, but the roof was reinforced by the Antarctic Heritage Trust a couple of years ago to protect it.
It’s a quiet, ghostly place with a deeply emotional feeling of history. Shackleton’s weather station still stands nearby, and I had my picture taken by it.
I wrote a post with more pics earlier in 2010 here.