Journal can solve puzzles surrounding ships lost in the Arctic in the 1840s
Historians hope a diary from the wreck of HMS Erebus could lead to a wealth of revelations about the fate of her doomed crew.
rebus and her sister ship HMS Terror were trapped in the arctic sea ice of far northern Canada in the mid-1840s while searching for the elusive Northwest Passage.
After being stuck for more than a year, the crews abandoned their ships and tried to get to safety over land. They never made it and are believed to have resorted to cannibalism to survive.
The disappearance of the ships gripped Victorian society, and Charles Dickens and the widow of the expedition leader, Sir John Franklin, led a campaign of action.
Several expeditions were sent, but it was not until 2014 that the wreck of the Erebus was found.
The terror was discovered two years later.
The pandemic delayed efforts to salvage items from the wrecks, but they were finally able to dive to Erebus last September.
The ship is said to be more vulnerable than the Terror, which sits in much deeper water.
Archaeologists working for Parks Canada have recovered 275 artifacts, including the journal, a lieutenant’s epaulettes, which are still in her case, and a pair of eyeglasses.
Ken McGoogan, a historian of the expedition, told Canadian broadcaster CBC News the diary would prove a key test of whether other documents in the hull might be readable, such as a logbook or other records that could uncover some of the mysteries surrounding the expedition .
Ryan Harris, a Parks Canada diver, said the leather-bound journal was “one of the most remarkable finds of the summer.”
“We came across a folio – a beautifully embossed leather book cover – with pages inside. It actually still has the quill tucked away in the cover like a journal that you can write and put on your bedside table before you hand it in,” he said.
“We are quite excited about the tantalizing possibility that this artifact may contain written material.”
News that the crew had resorted to cannibalism gleaned from the local Inuit population outraged Victorian society.
It preferred to believe that the surviving crew had been murdered by the tribesmen.
Telegraph Media Group Limited 
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/journal-may-solve-riddle-of-ships-lost-in-arctic-in-1840s-42277264.html Journal can solve puzzles surrounding ships lost in the Arctic in the 1840s