Tag Archives: United Kingdom

The Last Words of Antarctic Explorer Robert Falcon Scott

Robert Falcon Scott was a royal naval officer and antarctic explorer whose last and disastrous expedition was recorded in detail in his working diary. 100 years ago (on March 29), he scrawled his last words into his diary:

“We had fuel to make two cups of tea apiece and bare food for two days on the 20th. Every day we have been ready to start for our depot 11 miles away, but outside the door of the tent it remains a scene of whirling drift. I do not think we can hope for any better things now. We shall stick it out to the end, but we are getting weaker, of course, and the end cannot be far.

It seems a pity, but I do not think I can write more.

R. SCOTT.

For God’s sake look after our people.”

Scott and his men January 17, 1912 courtesy of Wikipedia

The entry came two weeks after several weeks of heart-wrenching and disastrous accounts of the weather, the status of food, and the conditions of himself and his companions. In November 1912 (8 months after this), a search party found Scott and two of his companions frozen in their sleeping bags. To learn more about the failed expedition, see the article by Andrew Mustain at MSNBC’s “Antarctic explorer’s last words: 100 years ago.”

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Pre-Cursor to Stonehenge Located in Northern Scotland

Archaeologists working on the Orkney Islands, one of the northernmost regions of Scotland, have uncovered a stone-age complex that they believe to be a precursor to Stonehenge.

The ritual center called the “Ness of Brodgar” predates Stonehenge by at least a few centuries (early radiocarbon dating suggests that it was first occupied by 3200 BCE). The site hosted several stone age rituals that appear similar to those hosted in Salisbury more than 500 years later.

To learn more about this discovery, see the article in National Geographic or the Orkney Jar Dig Diary.

Ship From Ill-Fated Spanish Armada (1588) Discovered off the Coast of Ireland

Nautical Archaeologists have recently discovered a shipwreck off the coast of Ireland that they believe to have belonged to the ill-fated 1588 expedition to England.

In 1588, the Spanish Armada at 130 strong set sail to England with the intent of deposing Queen Elizabeth I. At the time, the Catholic country of Spain was embroiled is an undeclared ‘war,’ termed the Anglo-Spanish War, with Protestant England.

The ill-fated Armada, considered at the time a legitimate threat to the powerful nation of England, was all but destroyed in a storm off the coast of Ireland. Of the original fleet, fewer than 50 made it back him to Spain with the invasion never having taken place.

The unfriendly waters off the coast of Ireland make discovery and excavation difficult, but this new piece is anticipated to be a source of national pride for the people of England. Read more about the discovery in this article of the Belfast Telegraph.

The Carmichael Watson Project at the University of Edinburgh

On my recent trip to the United Kingdom, we were given the privilege of enjoying a tour of the Rare Books Collection at the University of Edinburgh Library. We met with Joseph Marshall, Ph.D., the rare book librarian, and were given an amazing tour of the rare books collection, catalogue, and conservation unit as well as an informative history of the library. While there, we also got a quick glance of the Carmichael Watson Project.

Alexander Carmichael was a writer and an amateur  folklorist of Gaelic Scotland. His most prominent work, the Carmina Gadelica, recorded a series of poems, hymns, incantations, and so forth translated by Alexander Carmichael.

The Carmichael Watson Project, hosted by the University of Edinburgh, is an online resource of Alexander Carmichael’s works, including:

  • Full text transcriptions
  • Digital images
  • Fully indexed catalogue
  • Biographical Records
  • Geo-referenced place-names
  • Handwriting guide

If you have any interest in Gaelic and/or Scottish culture or oral traditions, this is a can’t miss exhibit. Check it out!