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Meat sample from Franklin's last Arctic Expedition

Dried out, string like meat in a rectangular glass jar on a plinth.

Meat sample from Franklin's last Arctic Expedition, © National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

  • Intro
    Museum's Description
    Teacher notes
    • What’s on the menu? Well if you were on board Sir John Franklin's last expedition between 1845-48, probably this! This meat was originally stored in alcohol and sold in a tin and very typical of what sailors ate on their voyages.

      Franklin was on his way to becoming the first man to chart the Northwest passage- the waterways connecting the northern Pacific Oceans to the Arctic Ocean, along the northern coast of North America. In late July, his ships the Erebus and Terror were seen by a whaler in Baffin Bay, waiting for ice to clear in Lancaster Sound – and to begin their journey to the Bering Strait. This was the last time any of the 129 crew members were ever seen alive.

      Franklin was a British hero and there were more than 30 expeditions which set off to search for his him and his crew but they had no success. In fact more people died looking for Franklin than had been lost in the first place.

      Things to think about:
      • Why was it so important that the Northwest Passage was accurately charted?
      • Why do you think this object is important to the museum?
      • What can it tell us about what life was like aboard these expedition ships?
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