Thursday, 16 December 2010

Silken flag at the South Pole

So it's 99 years this week since man finally made it to the South Pole. At 3pm on December 14 1911, Roald Amundsen and his team deduced that they had reached their destination and, as the Norwegian explorer later wrote, "gathered round the colours, a beautiful silken flag. All hands took hold of it, and, planting it on the spot, gave the vast plateau on which the Pole is situated the name of the King Haakon VII Plateau."

Of course news of the success didn't emerge until the beginning of March the following year. Countless articles and books have been written about the journey but I rather like Amudsen's initial matter of fact account. The following piece appeared in the Observer on March 10 1912.


  1. Great post! I never cease to be amazed by Amundsen -- both his remarkable achievements and his laconic tone. He was, I think, tutored in narrative (if not in technique) by the volumes of English polar explorers he read as a youth. I had not seen this clipping before, but it certainly brings home the immediacy of the event!

    Just this year, I wrote an essay on Amundsen for Robin Hanbury-Tenison's lovely new volume, The Great Explorers (Thames & Hudson). It features, among other things, a photograph of the flag mentioned in this article.

  2. Russell,
    Thanks for the Great Explorers tip. Sounds fascinating and could well be a Christmas purchase.