A 100-year-old “perfectly preserved” fruit cake has been found in an Antarctic hut by conservators from the Christchurch-based Antarctic Heritage Trust.
The cake, made by Huntly and Palmers, was located at Cape Adare, still wrapped in paper and encased in the remains of a tin-plated iron alloy tin.
The item is believed to have been left by the northern party of British explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s Terra Nova expedition, which was based at the cape in 1911 and 1912.
Trust artefacts programme manager Lizzie Meek that, although the tin was in a poor state, the cake itself was in excellent condition and looked and smelt edible, or almost.
“With just two weeks to go on the conservation of the Cape Adare artefacts, finding such a perfectly preserved fruitcake in amongst the last handful of unidentified and severely corroded tins was quite a surprise,” Ms Meek said.
“It’s an ideal high-energy food for Antarctic conditions, and is still a favourite item on modern trips to the Ice.” Since May 2016, a team of four conservators has been working in the Canterbury Museum laboratory on the conservation of almost 1500 artefacts from Cape Adare.
The trust is now planning to begin conservation work on the huts.
The buildings were the first in Antarctica and were constructed by members of Norwegian Carsten Borchgrevink’s expedition in 1899.
The permit the trust was granted to collect the artefacts stipulates that all items must be returned to the site after conservation.
It plans to do this after the huts have been restored. NZN