New Zealand / Canterbury

Diaries describing 'horror' discovery of explorer's body sold to museum

19:05 pm on 18 December 2018

An Antarctic diary detailing the discovery of British explorer Captain Robert Scott's frozen body has been bought by the Canterbury Museum.

Norwegian skiing expert Tryggve Gran had written two diaries on Photo: Supplied

It was one of two diaries purchased by the museum at an auction in London last week that relate to Captain Robert Scott.

The diaries were written by Mr Scott's Norwegian skiing expert Tryggve Gran, one in Norwegian and the other, in Mr Gran's imperfect English.

The captain had employed him to teach the other expedition members to ski, and was one of 11 who set out to find the Polar Party after they failed to return from their journey to the Pole.

He described his horror at finding the frozen bodies of Robert Scott, Edward Wilson and Henry Bowers on 12 November 1912.

"I will never forget it so long I live - a horrible nightmare could not have shown more horror than this," Gran wrote. "The frost had made the skin yellow & transparent & I've never seen anything worse in my life."

Tryggve Gran Photo: Supplied

Canterbury Museum's director Anthony Wright said the diaries provide an insight into Antarctic history.

"I'm really pleased we managed to secure these diaries for our Antarctic collection. They're an extraordinary first-hand account of some of the most significant events in Antarctic history, written as those events unfolded. History doesn't get much more immediate than this."

He said they planned to scan and digitise the English-language diary in the new year, when they arrive from London.

Mr Wright said they purchased the diaries because they want to become more focused on Antarctica.

"We already have one of the best Antarctic collections in the world, and our audience research shows it's a major drawcard.

"Acquiring these diaries further cements Canterbury Museum's reputation as one of the world's best places to research and learn about Antarctica."

Captain Robert Falcon Scott led two expeditions to the Antarctic regions.