The Terra Nova Expedition:
The British Antarctic (Terra Nova) Expedition, 1910-1913, was the second
expedition Captain Robert Falcon Scott led to the Antarctic. One hundred years
later, it remains imprinted in public consciousness as the venture in which
Scott was beaten to the South Pole by the Norwegian, Roald Amundsen, then died
on the return journey, along with four of his men.
Focusing solely on the tragedy, however, is to overlook the great
accomplishments of the expedition. These include the first winter sledging
journey in Antarctica, the collection of vast quantities of scientific samples
and data, and the surveying of previously unknown coastal and interior regions
of the continent. The expedition also generated what have become classic
literary and visual accounts, including Scott’s own diary, Apsley Cherry
Garrard’s The Worst Journey in the World, Edward
Wilson’s watercolours, and of course, Herbert Ponting’s photographic plates of
the expedition and the Antarctic environment.
In the temperament of the men, and the manner it was conducted, the expedition
typifies the Edwardian era, but it also stands as a timeless and universal
emblem of human endeavour. Against the dramatic backdrop of Antarctica, it will
remain, without doubt, one of the greatest expeditions and exploration stories
of all time.