Scottish National Antarctic Expedition, ships logs and plans

Scope and Content

The collection comprises of ships logs and plans for the Scotia. A full list of archival material in separate collections held by the Institute is also included.

Administrative / Biographical History

Scotia, steam yacht. Leader William Speirs Bruce. Captain of Scotia, Thomas Robertson.

The Scottish National Antarctic Expedition, 1902-1904 (leader William Speirs Bruce) undertook exploration of the Weddell Sea. To the west of Queen Maud Land the expedition discovered Coats Land, which was named for James Coats Jr and Major Andrew Coats who had supported the expedition.

Scotia with a complement of 33 wintered at Laurie Island, South Orkney Islands. Here a meteorological observatory (Omond House) was established, the station was entrusted to the Oficina Meteorologica Argentina from 22 February 1904. The Argentines continue to run it to this day. (Laurie Island is now the oldest continuously operational observatory in the region.)

When Alan Ramsay (engineer) died in 1903 his grave became the first in the island cemetery. The extensive scientific programme was carried out by William Speirs Bruce and his scientific party comprising of Robert Neal Rudmose Brown, botanist, Robert C Mossman, meteorologist and John H Harvie Pirie, bacteriologist and medical officer, David W Wilton with assistance from Alastair Ross as taxidermist (Ross remained at Omond House between 1903-1904) and William A. Cuthbertson as artist (Cuthbertson remained at Omond House, from 1903 to 1904). Scotia visited the Falkland Islands in December 1902, December 1904 and February 1904. The ship then visited Gough Island in April 1904. Cinematographic pictures and sound recordings were made, plans to search for the missing Swedish South Polar Expedition, 1901-1903 (leader Nils Otto Nordenskjld) were set aside when news of their rescue by the Argentine naval ship Uruguay arrived.

Ship's Company: Henry Anderson. Allan Thomson Bryce (left ship at Stanley 1903). Robert Davidson. Alexander Duncan. John Flitchie, third mate (subsequently promoted to first mate in Stanley), Edwin Florence. Henry Gravill. Andrew Greig (left ship in Buenos Aries, January 1904). Gilbert Kerr (piper). David Low. James McDougall. John MacMurchie (left ship in Buenos Aries, January 1904). Thomas MacKenzie (discharged sick, Buenos Aries, January 1904). James McKenzie (left ship in Buenos Aries, January 1904). Robert McKenzie (discharged, Buenos Aries, January 1904). William Mann (transferred to scientific staff of Omond House, October 1903 to February 1904) William Murray. David Patrick (shipped in, Buenos Aries, January 1903). Allan Ramsay (died onboard Scotia, 6 August 1903). James Rice (left ship in Buenos Aries, January 1904). Alexander Robertson (left ship in Buenos Aries, January 1904). John Smith (Shetland Johnnie). William Smith (remained at Omond House as cook, 27 November 1903 to 1 January 1904). A.J. Walker. Robert Wilson.


The collection is arranged chronologically.

Access Information

By appointment.

Some materials deposited at the Institute are NOT owned by the Institute. In such cases the archivist will advise about any requirements imposed by the owner. These may include seeking permission to read, extended closure, or other specific conditions.


Anyone wishing to consult material should ensure they note the entire MS reference and the name of the originator.

The term holograph is used when the item is wholly in the handwriting of the author. The term autograph is used when the author has signed the item.

Descriptions compiled by N. Boneham, Assistant Archivist with reference to Robert Keith Headland Antarctic Chronology, unpublished corrected revision of Chronological list of Antarctic expeditions and related historical events, (1 December 2001) Cambridge University Press (1989) ISBN 0521309034

Other Finding Aids

Clive Holland Manuscripts in the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, England - a catalogue, Garland Publishing New York and London (1982) ISBN 0824093941.

Additional finding aids are available at the Institute.

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Further accessions possible.