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Canterbury Museum acquires Antarctic skiing expert’s medals and diaries

21 February 2018

Canterbury Museum has acquired medals and diaries belonging to Tryggve Gran, the Norwegian skiing expert on the 1910–1913 British Antarctic Expedition.

The museum successfully bid at auction in London for four medals awarded to Gran and two of the journals he wrote during his time in Antarctica.

In addition to the Polar Medal he was awarded in July 1913 as a member of the expedition, the museum has acquired three medals awarded for his service in World War One – the Military Cross (UK), the Legion of Honour (France) and the Order of the Crown of Italy.

“We’re very pleased to have secured these items – the museum’s Antarctic collections from the heroic age of exploration and discovery are of world-wide interest and importance," says museum director Anthony Wright.

"Tryggve Gran’s medals and diaries contribute to the museum’s knowledge of the ill-fated expedition and this chapter of Gran’s fascinating life as an explorer, aviator and author.”

Chosen by Robert Falcon Scott as an ace skier to train men on the journey south, Gran was the youngest member of the expedition.

He was one of the 13 expedition members involved in laying the supply depots needed for the Polar Party’s attempt to reach the South Pole in 1911.

In November 1912, he was part of the 11-man search party that found the tent containing the bodies of Scott and his two remaining companions.

After collecting the party’s personal belongings, the search party lowered the tent over the bodies and built a snow cairn over it.

Gran used his skis to form a cross over their grave.

He travelled back to the base at Cape Evan wearing Scott's skis, reasoning that at least Scott's skis would complete the journey. 

The Museum paid £105,000 for the medals and diaries.

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