Rock specimen collected from Anartica by Sir Ernest Shackleton
This mineral specimen was collected by Sir Ernest Shackleton during the British Antarctic Expedition 'Nimrod' expedition, 1907-1909, based on Ross Island.
In outlining the aims of the expedition, Shackleton stated 'I do not intend to sacrifice the scientific utility of the expedition to a mere record-breaking journey but say frankly, all the same, that one of my great efforts will be to reach the southern geographical pole'. This attempt to reach the South Pole was to be one of extreme hardship and suffering. Within 156 kilometres from the Pole Shackleton was forced to turn back, rather than risk the lives of his men. Although he failed to reach the Pole, Shackleton came closer than anyone before him. Certainly the expedition was a scientific success, and is associated with some of the earliest advances in the study of earth sciences, meteorology, flora and fauna in Antarctica. Shackleton returned to Britain a hero and King Edward VII was to remark: 'This was the greatest geographical event of my reign.'
Shackleton went on to undertake the infamous 'Endurance' expedition of 1914, which was to become one of the greatest stories of survival in expedition history. Just one day's sail from Antarctica, the ship became trapped in sea ice and was eventually crushed, forcing the crew to abandon ship. After camping on the ice for five months, Shackleton, Worsley, and Crean made the treacherous crossing to South Georgia Island, covering more than 1,200 kilometres in an open boat. Here they trekked for 36 hours straight, crossing the mountainous island to reach the remote Stromness whaling station to organise a rescue team for the men left behind. Incredibly, all members of the expedition survived.
Ross Island is one of the principal areas of early human activity in Antarctica, and is a significant site relating to Antarctic exploration and research. The history of the activities undertaken on Ross Island, and the contribution they have made to the understanding and awareness of Antarctica, gives this and related objects great scientific and social significance. Added to this significance is the object's association with Sir Ernest Shackleton, one of the early pioneers of Antarctic exploration whose courage, leadership and determination are now legendary.
Railing, Christopher, 'Shackleton: His Antarctic writings selected and introduced by Christopher Ralling, British Broadcasting Corporation, London, 1983
Mortimer, Gavin, 'Shackleton and the Antarctic Explorers: The men who battled to reach the South Pole', Carlton Books Limited, 1999
National Science Foundation, http://www.nsf.gov/od/opp/antarct/aca/nsf01151/aca2_spa156.pdf