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Artefacts from Franklin's Artic Expedition 1845-1848

Franklin's Arctic Expedition 1845-1848

Many of you will be familiar with the true-life unexplained fate of the Royal Navy’s exploration vessels HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, Captained by Sir John Franklin to the Arctic in 1845-1848.

These Royal Navy ships became stuck in the Arctic ice while seeking the fabled North-West Passage.

The story was fictionalised in a series by Ridley Scott that has been broadcast on Amazon Prime in 2018 and BBC Two in 2021. The television show The Terror’s first series is based on Dan Simmons' 2007 horror novel which has been inspired by this historical story about Captain Franklin's expedition.

But, have you ever seen any real life artefacts from this expedition?

Real Artefacts from the expedition

In this blog post we're sharing some of the artefacts from The National Museum of the Royal Navy collection within this blog post for you to explore and enjoy!

Piece of red material from a boat's ensign from either HMS Terror or HMS Erebus of Sir John Franklin's expedition. Found by Lieutenant Hobson, May 1859, North Cairn near Cape Felix.  Attached is piece of paper with inscription.

Relics from Franklin’s lost expedition including a piece of prayer book, a piece of lint from the medicine chest and a needle, were found on a boat with two skeletons and elsewhere on the West Coast of King William Islands in May and June 1859 by Alex Thompson, part of the McClintock arctic expedition on the steam schooner, Fox.

Hook from a sword belt belonging to one of the officers of HMS Terror, or HMS Erebus of Sir John Franklin's expedition.

Naval General Service Medal, 1793-1840, with clasp, awarded to Midshipman William B Lavers, HMS Terror.

A printed booklet entitled 'A Letter From The Antarctic' by Captain J.E. Davis containing a letter from Captain Davis to his sister whilst on board HMS Terror in 1842. Published in 1901, long after his death, the booklet contains detailed descriptions of life on board the ship.

Narrative of an expedition in HMS Terror, undertaken with a view to geographical discovery of the Arctic shores, in the years 1836-7 by Captain George Back, 1838.



Uniform jacket with tails, which belonged to Lieutenant John Binney. Costume designers from ‘The Terror’ Ridley Scott television show came to The National Museum of The Royal Navy to study this uniform in preparation for the show.

Want to find out more about HMS Terror and HMS Erebus?
Take a look at our other blog post called 'The History Behind BBC 2's The Terror'.

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