Glasgow Digital Library Voyage of the Scotia BRUCE PEOPLE SHIP ANTARCTIC INDEX
Scotland and the Antarctic

Section 1: Background - Arctic and Antarctic

Arctic exploration

Small outline map of the Arctic

The exploration of the Earth began when people spread across the continents in prehistoric times. Europeans opened up the oceans and their explorers mapped new coastlines and found new routes to the Far East and the Americas.

The exploration of the north-eastern area of North America began in 1497 with John Cabot who discovered Newfoundland (five years after Columbus rediscovered the American continent - the first European since the Vikings in the tenth and eleventh centuries). British expeditions to this area followed - many hoping to find a passage to the Pacific. The map of the area to the west of Greenland is covered by the names of explorers - Martin Frobisher 1576, John Davis 1585, Henry Hudson 1610 and William Baffin 1610.

In 1744 the British government offered 20,000 (a considerable sum at that time) for the first to discover a Northwest Passage around the north of America. In 1788 Captain James Cook tried to find a passage from west to east via the Bering Straits.

When the nineteenth century began there were many areas of the world undiscovered and unknown to European countries. North and South America had been colonised by Europe and gradually Africa was carved up by European powers.

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Glasgow Digital Library Voyage of the Scotia BRUCE PEOPLE SHIP ANTARCTIC INDEX