Survival of Archaeological Textiles in an Arctic Environment

  • Nancy Kerr
  • Barbara Schweger


Beechey Island, Northwest Territories, Canada, August 1984: Beattie and co-workers from the University of Alberta opened the grave of Petty Officer John Torrington, and found his body almost perfectly preserved in ice. This was a significant moment in an on-going research project, coordinated by Beattie, to determine why all 129 crew members of the Third Sir John Franklin British Arctic Expedition perished in northern Canada (Figure 1) between 1846 and 1848 as they were seeking the Northwest Passage to the Pacific Ocean. The men had left England in 1845, provisioned for three years, aboard the ships HMS Terror and HMS Erebus. Their unexplained deaths have resulted in numerous search expeditions and resultant publications and much speculation in the 140 years since their disappearance (e.g. Cyriax, 1939; Kane, 1854; Stefansson, 1938).


Cotton Fiber Active Zone Flax Fiber Wool Fiber Crew Member 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nancy Kerr
    • 1
  • Barbara Schweger
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Clothing and TextilesUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.Boreal Institute for Northern StudiesUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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