Covid-19 continues to have a major impact on people and programmes across the Ross Sea Heritage Restoration Project (RSHRP).
This season the On-Ice conservation team will undertake deferred maintenance, which means both a larger team size and longer duration on Ross Island than a standard maintenance season. Border restrictions and Covid-19 permitting, the team will consist of our two Trust Programme Managers (Al Fastier and Lizzie Meek), a heritage carpenter and four artefact conservators, who will spend two weeks in quarantine in New Zealand before deploying, followed by a two-month summer season at the Ross Island explorer bases. The four conservators will remain at Scott Base for the winter of 2022, which will be the first time the Trust has run a winter conservation programme since 2014.
The deferred maintenance programme is an opportunity for the team to address some of the more complicated conservation issues facing the sites. An example at Shackleton’s Hut at Cape Royds is the 1907 Venesta store cases that continue to suffer warping and delamination. There is the potential for the sides of the Venesta cases to rupture and be lost to the environment, causing environment damage. In order to halt the losses, maintain the storage capacity for historic contents, and maintain the interpretive qualities the boxes bring to the site, the team will continue the programme from the 2005 and 2010 seasons, both conserving and replacing the degraded panels, while continuing to store them onsite for possible future use.
At Scott’s Cape Evans Hut, the main task will be to reduce the level of environmental contaminants in the stables and western annex, which are a risk to the artefacts there. At Scott’s Discovery Hut at Hut Point, a solution has been developed to overcome the issue of blubber oil seeping into adjacent floorboards then being tracked through the hut by visitors. To resolve this the team will place a protective tray or ‘bund’ beneath the seal blubber stack.
The Trust will continue its monitoring programme, including collecting information on temperature and relative humidity at each historic site, building levels and snow/ice deposition, timber moisture content data, and inspection and documentation of a select range of conservation treatments on different material types. This helps us understand the changes being experienced and guides and informs future maintenance needs.
Over the winter, conservators will carry out focused re-treatment of vulnerable iron alloy artefacts, which despite previous treatment, continue to corrode at varying rates. They will select these objects during the summer and transport them to Scott Base where they will work on them in a laboratory between February and October 2022.
Work on site at Borchgrevink’s Huts at Cape Adare has been postponed this season, due to logistic constraints associated with Covid-19.
With the Antarctic Heritage Trust AR App you can bring objects into your own environment that were left behind at Cape Adare by Carsten Borchgrevink’s expedition and Scott’s Northern Party expedition. The app is available to download for free from Google Play or the App Store.
The UKAHT conservation programme has also been impacted by Covid-19, resulting in a much-reduced plan for an On-Ice team this season. The Trust’s Programme Managers continue to support UKAHT under our partnership agreement, to develop conservation and implementation plans for the sites on the Antarctic Peninsula which UKAHT cares for.
Work on the Venesta store cases at Shackleton’s Hut at Cape Royds will be part of the upcoming season’s deferred maintenance programme. © AHT/Lizzie Meek