Shackleton's Hut

Ernest Shackleton was a 34 year old lieutenant when he built the hut at Cape Royds. It was the second of 4 Antarctic expeditions. His first experience was with Robert Scott in the 1901-1904 expedition. Shackleton left the group in 1903 to return to England, determined to return at the head of his own group. After several years of desperately trying to raise money and secure bank loans the British Antarctic Expedition under Shackleton's command was launched. On January 1, 1908, the Nimrod set out from Lyttleton Harbour, New Zealand, under tow by another vessel, the Koonya. The Nimrod, a 40-year old sealing ship, had been obtained as a less expensive alternative the Bjorn, a polar worthy Norwegian vessel which Shackleton had wanted to purchase, but could not afford. Laden so heavily that its draft brought the freeboard clearance to less than 4 feet, the Nimrod quickly came in danger of floundering as heavy seas were encountered within the first week. On January 15, as the ships encountered pack ice some 1,500 miles south of New Zealand, the Koonya bade farewell and headed for home. It was to take until February 3, after numerous frustrating bids at landfall, that Shackleton settled on Cape Royds as his base for the attempted trek to the South Pole.

Under the supervision of the "Boss," as Shackleton was called by his men, the expedition team of 15 members constructed the hut over the next 3 weeks. The hut measures about 33 feet in length by 19 feet in width with an 8 foot ceiling.

The following photographs were taken at the hut on December 3, 1996.

Hut exterior

Discarded stores

Food stores

Dog hut




Hut interior

Hut interior




Food stores

Common space

Boots and shoes

Sleds hang from the ceiling

Clothing hanging up to dry


Medical supplies

Stove top

Meteorological Station

Salt stores

Food stores

More food stores

While the British Antarctic expedition of 1907-1909 failed to reach the geographic South Pole--Shackleton turned back just 97 miles from his goal--their work was very important for science and a number of "firsts." The location of the southern magnetic pole had been established, Mt. Erebus was climbed successfully, a host of fauna and flora had been collected and examined and valuable meteorological data had been gathered. On his return in June of 1909, Shackleton was knighted by King Edward VII. He made another unsuccessful bid for a trans-Antarctic crossing in 1914 and died at sea near South Georgia Island in 1922, where he lies buried at the behest of his wife, Emily.