Monday 7 January 2019


When the crew of HMS Terror deserted their ship in an attempt to reach the Back River, evidence suggests they did so by hauling boats on massive sledges across the sea ice and down the west coast of King William Island. Any model of HMS Terror would be incomplete without a representation of the gear they used when they left the vessel. The primary source of information on the nature of the boat sledges comes from direct observation of the equipment, found on the shore of Erebus Bay by Hobson and McClintock, at a site now famously known as “The Boat Place.” It is possible that this sledge was from HMS Terror, as one of the harnesses recovered from it was marked “T11,” presumably meaning “Terror 11” (or the harness assigned to the 11th sledge-hauler from Terror).

The weight of the boat alone was about 700 or 800 lbs. only, but she was mounted upon a sledge of unusual weight and strength. It was constructed of two oak planks 23 feet 4 inches in length, 8 inches in width, and with an average thickness of 2 ½ inches. These planks formed the sides or runners of the sledge; they were connected by five cross-bars of oak each 4 feet long and 4 inches by 3 ½ inches thick and bolted down to the runners; the underneath parts of the latter were shod with iron. Upon the cross bars five saddles or supporting chocks for the boat were lashed, and the drag-ropes by which the crew moved this massive sledge, and the weights upon it, consisted of 2 ¾ inch whale-line. I have calculated the weight of this sledge to be 650 lbs.; it could not have been less and may have been considerably more. “   McClintock (1860: 291-292).

William Thomas Smith's "They Forged the Last Link with Their Lives" (1895), depicting The Boat Place.
This remarkably well-researched painting shows the sledge and the chocks on which the boat rests.
National Maritime Museum BHC1273.

The above observation, made by Francis Leopold McClintock on May 30th, 1859, occurred roughly a decade after the boat and sledge had been abandoned on the western coast of King William Island. It is only one of two detailed firsthand accounts describing the sledging equipment left by Crozier and his crew (there are also several accounts by the Inuit, recorded by Hall, but these are far less detailed). The other account was written by Lieutenant Hobson, who was the first to discover the sledge and the boat that rested on it, and it adds details not included in McClintock’s more famous monograph. For example, Hobson estimated the breadth of the sledge as only two feet, which must be an error (Stenton 2014:518). Further, Hobson described that the “The runners were of three-inch oak reduced at the top to two inches,” which accords with McClintock’s average of 2.5 inches. Hobson also noted that the chocks were made from fir, and that “These were neatly leathered. The whole was very strongly bolted and fastened.”  The latter term probably refers to lashings, which as we will see below, conforms well with the type of sledge Crozer's men constructed.

Cryiax (1963) observed many years ago that detailed information on Royal Navy sledging equipment is limited, and the subject has received very little scholarly examination (but see Pearson 1995). According to McClintock’s observations, Crozier and Fitzjames decided to construct an edge-runner type sledge (e.g. Pearson 1995). The runners were almost certainly derived from the stock of ships’ planking allocated to Erebus and Terror for necessary repairs. The length of the timbers used for the sledge is approximately the same as the maximum length of a standard Royal Navy hull plank, which was ca. 24 feet (Goodwin 1987:39). Furthermore, much of the lower planking on Terror’s hull was 3 inches in thickness, consistent with the thickness of the sledge runners. It is likely that the maximum dimensions of the plank stock, as much as the length of the boat which rested on it, dictated the original length of the sledge (e.g. they used the longest planks available to them). Fir, and probably elm, plank stock would also have been available from the ship's stores, but the stoutest timber in Terror's stores - oak - was chosen for the task.
In 1879, twenty years after McClintock and Hobson had observed the sledge at The Boat Place, two massive Royal Navy sledge runners were acquired by Frederick Schwatka from Inuit he encountered near Richardson Point, on the Adelaide Peninsula. Schwatka believed that the pieces were cut-down runners from McClintock’s Boat Place because of their unusually large size, material (oak), and presumably because the Inuit told him where they obtained them and how they modified them (Gilder 1881:94; Schwatka 1899:39). He observed that they were no longer shod in iron and that the Inuit had cut approximately 1.5 inches off their height and seven feet off their length. It is generally agreed by researchers that these runners are the actual runners observed by McClintock at The Boat Place;  however, their design, which is almost indistinguishable from traditional Inuit sledges, raises some necessary doubts about their authenticity.

Two fragments of a sledge runner recovered by Frederic Schwatka. The aft section (top) is AA2283.1,
and the forward section (bottom) is AA2283.2. National Maritime Museum AA2283.

Detail of label on AA2283.1. 
Fortunately, the available historical information suggests that a strong similarity to Inuit sledges is to be expected. The accounts by McClintock and Hobson, which describe a large edge-runner type sledge (Pearson 1995) with several cross pieces tightly lashed together, closely matches Inuit design in nearly all respects. While we don’t have detailed descriptions or plans of early Royal Navy sledge designs, we do know that Sir Edward Parry (1824:515-518, see also Pearson 1995) admired and copied Inuit sledges during his second expedition in Fury and Hecla (1821-1823). Therefore, Crozier, as a midshipman on Parry’s second voyage and one of Parry’s more prolific sledgers, was also intimately familiar with traditional Inuit sledging technology. It is therefore likely that The Boat Place sledge resembled Inuit sledges because Crozier intended to copy Inuit technology. It should be noted that these sledges provide good evidence that Royal Navy explorers in this era were not ignorant of Inuit lifeways, and indeed actively used Inuit knowledge to aid their endeavors.
Three sections of runner are preserved in the National Maritime Museum from the sledge recovered by Schwatka (AAA2283.1,2,3). What became of the rest of the sledge is unknown, but these three specimens appear to represent portions of two different runners because their combined length would be over 28 feet (longer than the sledge described by McClintock, and longer than any plank stock carried aboard Erebus or Terror). Luckily, the front and rear ends of one runner are preserved, as well as the central portion of the second.
The fore part of the sledge runner (AA2283.2) has a gracefully curved end, with myriad perforations along its length, somewhat irregularly positioned, but presumably for attachment of crossbars, grab handles, and boat lashings. Two of the perforations are larger rectangular holes, which are so heavily worn that they almost appear oval in shape. Each of these larger holes is associated with a smaller bolt hole on the upper edge of the runner. The wear on these larger holes and the associated bolt holes indicate that these were the locations where the crossbars were both bolted and lashed to the runners, as described by McClintock and Hobson. The majority of the perforations on the artifact are smaller square holes, also heavily worn, which were likely used for drag handle and trace attachment. There are also four circular drilled holes located closer to the bottom of the runner, in proximity to the large rectangular holes. These may have been used for additional lashings to the crossbars after the original lashings loosened. The second runner fragment (AA2283.1) has a similar row of perforations, with two large rectangular holes separated in line by three smaller square holes. Like the other specimen, two circular drilled holes are located close to the bottom of the runner near the larger rectangular holes.

Detail of the forward section of sledge runner. National Maritime Musem AA2283.2. 

To model the sledge, I started by creating a scale plan (see below). I took the original measurements described by McClintock and Hobson and mocked up a hypothetical plank stock, then projected scale tracings of the fore and rear fragments onto the plank, basing the curve of the runner on the fore specimen. I presumed the lower edge of the runner would not have been modified by the Inuit, given the proximity of the drilled holes to it, and made an assumption that the upper edge of the runner had been cut down (it would have made excellent spear shafts). Knowing that each of the larger rectangular holes occurs after two or three smaller square holes, I projected this pattern of perforations to the entire runner and added crossbars at the locations of the large rectangular perforations. Based on this pattern, it appears that no more than five of the large perforations would occur on a complete 23-foot runner. This corresponds precisely with the number of crossbars observed by McClintock.

The 4 x 4-inch crossbars are described by McClintock and Hobson as being both bolted “down" and/or "lashed" onto the runners. The bolt holes are still preserved in the upper edge of the runner, indicating that the crossbars rested on the top of the runners. Given this evidence, I assumed the crossbars overhung the runners by 1.5 inches on both sided to facilitate lashing, which is common in Inuit and Royal Navy sledges. 

Proposed reconstruction of "The Boat Place" sledge.

Thankfully, McClintock collected one of the oak chocks from The Boat Place sledge (AA2200). McClintock described the chock as being “lashed” to the crossbars, and the lashing slot is very well preserved on the specimen. It has no perforations, indicating it was not bolted to the crossbar. This configuration makes good sense - if Crozier anticipated that the sledge might be converted to haul only gear, it would have been advantageous to remove the chocks by simply removing the lashings. However, a deep slot is cut on the outside margin of the chock, indicating that it was braced against a spike or bolt which did perforate the crossbar, to keep the chock from slipping out of place. All of these details can be seen on the plans above.

Oak chock used to secure the boat to the sledge. Note the slot on the upper surface for lashing to 
the crossbar, and the slot on the left for a spike or bolt to prevent the chock from shifting laterally. 
National Maritime Museum AA2200.

The build started with two 1:48 scale planks of Swiss Pear (23 feet 4 inches x 3 inches). 

Perforations were added with a miniature drill bit (the fore and aft perforations match
 the NMM artifacts precisely).

Following the example of master ship modeler Chuck Passaro, I have been experimenting with using card
instead of blackened brass to simulate iron. This is a "blackboard" cardstock that has a suitable texture
and luster.The scale thickness is approximately one-half inch.

 A three inch (scale) wide strip was cut from the cardstock with a Xacto knife. A very sharp blade is required to
have a clean edge. 

The card strips were glued to the runners with CA gel. 

To simulate the square perforations in the real runners, I made a custom broaching tool. The tool has a square edge
(at the appropriate scale) and is pressed into the drilled holes from both sides to create a square effect 

Detail of the effect of the broaching tool. 

The crossbars are each 4 scale feet in length, and 4 x 4 scale inches. 

The chocks were based on the NMM artifact (AA2200), but the lashing slots were
exaggerated slightly to facilitate using scale rope. 

The chocks were placed consistent with the
width of a boat keel. 

The bolt slots were created by carefully drilling through the crossbar and into the edge of the chock. 

A simulated slot in the chock. 

Including the chock braces, the sledge used an estimated 20 iron bolts. These were simulated with blackened
brass nails (here being chemically blackened in a solution).  

Bolts/braces glued in place in crossbars and chocks. 

Heavy lashing simulated with scale rope. Here a "common whipping" was used for the lashing. 

Crossbars glued and bolted in place. 

In addition to the bolts, lashings were added to the crossbars, consistent with the historical descriptions.
The lashing is consistent with Royal Navy sledge lashings from the late 19th century.

The completed sledge compared to the scale plans (an early plan version missing some features) 

The fore view of the sledge with Mini-Crozier for scale. 

Mini-Crozier contemplates the sledge construction while waiting for his modified boat. The similarity to
Inuit sleds is very evident here. 

A coat of Minwax wipe on poly restores the luster and colour of the Swiss Pear, and protects the model. 

Mini-Crozier inspects the heavy iron runners and heavy fastenings on the underside of the sledge.


Cyriax, R. J. 1963. Arctic Sledge Travelling by Officers of The Royal Navy, 1819–49. The Mariner's Mirror 49(2): 127-142.

W.H. Gilder, W. H. 1881. Schwatka's Search: Sledging in the Arctic in Quest of the Franklin Records. Scribner's Sons, New York.

Goodwin, P. 1987. The Construction and Fitting of the Sailing Man of War. Conway Maritime Press, London.

McClintock, F. L. 1860. The Voyage of the "Fox" in the Arctic Seas: A Narrative of the Discovery of the Fate of Sir John Franklin and His Companions. John Murray, London.

Parry, E.W. 1824. Journal of a Second Voyage for the Discovery of a North-West Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific: Performed in the Years 1821-22-23, in His Majesty's Ships Fury and Hecla, Under the Orders of Captain William Edward Parry, R.N., F.R.S., and Commander to the Expedition.  J. Murray, London.

Pearson, M. 1995. Sledges and Sledging in Polar Regions. Polar Record 31 (176): 3-24.

Stenton, D. R. 2014. A Most Inhospitable Coast: The Report of Lieutenant William Hobson’s 1859 Search for the Franklin Expedition on King William Island. Arctic 67 (4): 511–522.

Thursday 10 May 2018


It all started with an email. Dave Kajganich had written to say that he and Soo Hugh were making a television show with AMC networks called “The Terror”, based on Dan Simmon’s fictionalized novel. They were fans of my blog, he wrote. They cared about historical accuracy, and Franklin’s ships were critical to the production. He asked if I would like to share a “wish list of things you'd really like a screen depiction of these ships to make sure to get right”.  I climbed upstairs to see my wife, the smile still on my face, and exclaimed: “You’ll never guess who just wrote me.”

I emailed back, describing how I saw Terror as her own character in the Franklin drama; how I believed her plight mirrored that of her captain; how the capabilities and technology of the ships were critical to the Franklin mystery. Of course, I was happy to help them in any way that I could. I was invited to a conference call with the producers and writers. Eventually, I wrote an eight-page memo for the writing team about a dozen spaces/places on the ship that might serve as critical settings for their story (only one didn’t appear on screen).  You can view that memo here.

Soon, I was having a conference call with the production designers and visual effects team. They were planning to reconstruct Terror and her lower decks at full scale (at full scale!). They would need all my original plans and research, and they wanted to know everything I had learned about the ships and their fittings during my model project. Eventually, I provided every file and reference image I had on my computer; I had to purchase more storage space on my Dropbox account just to share it all.

The Terror production built their ship at 1:1 scale. I will never forget the thrill of stepping aboard Terror 
- 170 years after it had been abandoned. From left to right: Dave Kajganich, Jonathan McKinstry, 
and Matthew Betts stand on Terror's Quarterdeck. 

For comparison, the preserved wheel on HMS Terror. Photo Credit: Thierry Boyer, ©Parks Canada

I don’t know if my journey was typical, but this was how I was hired as a historical advisor on “The Terror”. My primary roles in the series were threefold. First, I provided my original plans and research to the brilliant production designer, Jonathan McKinstry, who used them to reconstruct the ships at full scale. Jonathan and I wrote countless emails back and forth, and we used hundreds of photos, paintings, and plans of historical vessel and models, scrutinizing the smallest details of the ships. Second, I worked with Deryck Blake, the property master, and Kevin Downey, the set decorator, on recreating the material culture of the voyage. We exchanged hundreds of notes, images, documents, research papers, and videos -  on subjects as mundane as 19th-century caulker’s tools, to topics as esoteric as how a compass needle reacts near the North Magnetic Pole (yes, sometimes they will spin, especially if the ship changes course). Lastly, I assisted Dave and Soo with their questions about shipboard life during polar expeditions - how the ships functioned and responded to polar conditions and pack ice, and facts (and hypotheses) about the Franklin expedition and its fate.

The ship sets built for The Terror are highly accurate recreations of the vessels; perhaps the most accurate ship reconstructions ever created for television. The work of building the sets started with my original plans of HMS Terror, which I had created over five years of intensive historical research.

Historical Reference: No historical plans existed for Terror in her 1845 configuration. I reconstructed 
them from multiple plans (like the one shown here) and extensive historical research. Image Credit: 
ZAZ5672, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

Reference: Eventually, I was able to reconstruct Terror’s outboard configuration in 1845. I also 
created a full set of shipwright’s drawings for all decks, fittings, and construction. 
Image Credit: “Outboard Profile, HMS Terror, as fitted, 1845”, Matthew Betts.

The Terror Production Office: This is one of the many pin-boards used in Budapest. Here my original 
plans are surrounded by the production blueprints created by Jonathan McKinstry, Timi Antal, 
and their talented team. Photo Credit: Matthew Betts

The Terror Set: The production built the ship on a sound stage in Budapest using techniques remarkably like those I used to build my model.  The tracks shown in the video allow the ship to be moved, permitting different configurations of icescape to be set around it. Note also the ability to tilt the ship, which was critical for later episodes. Video Credit: Twitter/ AMC.

The Terror Set: The sound stages used for the production weren’t large enough to permit a full reconstruction 
of the masts and rigging. Those details, along with the icescape and sky, were added by the VFX team, 
who recreated both ships digitally in enormous detail. Photo Credit: Aidan Monaghan/AMC.

Reference: The Terror also used my model to assist with the reconstruction of the ships. This view of the 
upper deck shows all the major fittings. Photo Credit: Canadian Museum of History, Steven Darby, 

The Terror: A view of the upper deck of HMS Terror in Episode 1. Note the provisions, supplies, and 
boats crammed on her deck. Photo Credit: Aidan Monaghan/AMC.

Reference: A macro view of the quarterdeck on my Terror model. Note the Terror’s unique ten spoke wheel. 

The Terror Set: Terror’s quarterdeck brought to life (between scenes), at winter quarters 
(e.g. with canvas covering the deck). The structures at the stern were water closets and 
colour lockers. Note the unique ten spoke wheel. Photo Credit: Alex Eldridge. 

Historical Reference: The Illustrated London News published this iconic woodcut of Erebus and Terror 
departing Greenhithe on May 19th, 1845. Image Credit: Illustrated London News, May 24th
1845, Page 328. Google Books. 

The Terror: Erebus and Terror enter the pack in Episode 1. Notice the sun dog to the right. Photo Credit: AMC.

Historical Reference: The bow of HMS Erebus as she currently sits on the ocean floor. 
The discovery by Parks Canada of HMS Erebus in 2014, and HMS Terror in 
2016, substantially impacted The Terror, and the photos released by the 
archaeological team became important resources. Photo Credit: 
Thierry Boyer, ©Parks Canada.

The Terror Set: The bow of the ship set as reconstructed in Budapest. Walking up to it, you almost felt like a 
Parks Canada archaeologist. Photo Credit: Aidan Monaghan/AMC.

Historical Reference: Terror’s first arctic voyage in 1836/1837, under Captain George Back, left a detailed record 
of paintings and images depicting the vessel and her dramatic exploits. The production team relied heavily 
on this resource to bring accuracy to their sets.  Note the canvas awning on the ship and the complex 

The Terror Set:  HMS Terror at winter quarters, with her canvas awning protecting the deck. 
Note the snow structures and ramp. Photo Credit: Aidan Monaghan/AMC.

Historical Reference: Erebus and Terror were among the first Royal Navy sailing vessels to be 
converted to screw propulsion. This was accomplished by installing railway locomotives in 
their holds. Peter Carney has conducted extensive research on this conversion and has 
determined that Archimedes and Croydon (shown here), identical locomotive 
engines, were likely candidates. This is the only known plan of the Croydon 
type engine. Image Credit: Brees, Samuel, 1840. Second Series 

Reference: Peter Carney has provided detailed reconstructions of how these engines 
may have been installed in Erebus and Terror. Peter assisted me extensively 
in the development of this portion of my HMS Terror plans.  

The Terror Set: The locomotive engine appears only briefly in Episode 1 but was reconstructed at full scale in 
Budapest. All the levers and controls worked, and the flywheel was operated by a hand crank set just outside 
the set.  Image Credit: Alex Eldridge. 

The Terror Set:  Image of the Croydon engine facing forward, with the orlop deck above. 
This photo provides a sense of the very cramped space. Photo Credit: Matthew Betts. 

Historical Reference: When locomotive engines were installed in Erebus and Terror, an 
extensive refit of the stern was required to accommodate the screw propeller.  
Oliver Lang, master shipwright for the Royal Navy, designed these 
modifications and outlined them in the above plan. Image Credit: 
ZAZ5683National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.  

Reference: The stern was a very complex 3D structure, as shown in my model 
of HMS Terror.

The Terror: The production recreated Erebus’ unusual stern with great historical accuracy for a 
pivotal scene. Photo Credit: Aidan Monaghan/AMC.

Historical Reference: To provide natural light to the dark lower deck, 31 Preston Patent Illuminators 
(essentially glass portholes) were installed in the upper decks of the ships. One of these was recently 
recovered from HMS Erebus by Parks Canada. Photo Credit: 89m-2015-4533,
Thierry Boyer, ©Parks Canada.

 The Terror Set: The production installed 31 real illuminators in the upper 
deck set. As this photo from the filming of Episode 4 shows, sometimes 
the production informed our understanding of Franklin history. Not 
only did the illuminators let natural light in, they let artificial light
from lanterns below deck to spill out. This would have been a
welcome source of light on the upper deck during the darkest
winter months. Photo Credit: Matthew Betts 

 Historical Reference: The great cabin of Erebus was sketched by an artist just prior to her 
departure on May 19th, 1845. Note the captain’s table and the cabin stove.  Image Credit: 
Illustrated London News, May 24th, 1845, Page 328. Google Books

Historical Reference: The Canadian Museum of History used my plans to recreate the exact dimensions 
and shape of Erebus’ great cabin in the Death in the Ice exhibition (running until September 2018). 
The display contains a real fragment of the captain’s table, recovered by Parks Canada
 archaeologists from the wreck of HMS Erebus. Photo Credit: Matthew Betts.

The Terror Set: This photo shows the remarkable reconstruction of the captain's great cabin for the television show. 
Note the captain’s table and the cabin stove (moved to the starboard for ease of filming). I first visited this 
set when it was unlit and we had to use our cellphones as flashlights. I had a remarkable sensation 
of being a Parks Canada archaeologist, swimming through the actual wreck of Terror
Photo Credit: Matthew Betts

The Terror: Beautifully lit, and dominated by the presence of CiarĂ¡n Hinds, the great cabin is 
brought to life. Photo Credit: Aidan Monaghan/AMC.

Historical Reference: The Illustrated London News also printed a woodcut of Captain Fitzjames' 
bed cabin. Note the ornate scrollwork on the bed. Image Credit: Illustrated 
London News May 24th, 1845, Page 328. Google Books. 

Reference: Captain Crozier's bed cabin, from my plans, based on historical draughts. 
Franklin's bed cabin was identical in layout. 

The Terror Set: Franklin's bed cabin, Erebus. The Terror designers 
modified the furniture layout slightly, to avoid having the actors
 sit with their backs to the camera. Franklin's bed rail was also 
given a more ornate finish consistent with his status. 
Photo Credit: Matthew Betts

Reference: John Irving's bed cabin, from my plans, based on historical 
draughts. Note the ornate scrollwork on the bed. 

The Terror: Crozier (Jared Harris) recovers in his bed cabin. Note the scrollwork on the 
bed.  Photo Credit: Twitter/AMC

Historical Reference: We used many photos of historical vessels, including HMS Trincomalee
a contemporary of Erebus and Terror. Photo Credit: Ian Petticrew.

Reference: My plans for Terror’s lower deck are based on at least six original historic draughts (here 
only half the breadth of the ship is displayed). These resources even provide evidence for the exact 
design and dimensions of the unique seaman’s chests, each shared by two crew members. 

The Terror Set: Detail of a mess table on the Terror set. Note the accurately recreated seaman’s chests, 
and the design elements borrowed from HMS Trincomalee. While evidence suggests iron hoops 
were used to support the tables on both Erebus and Terror, for the television show rope was used 
on Terror, and iron hoops on Erebus, to provide some visual orientation for the audience. 

Reference: This image shows my reconstructed plans of a Fraser’s Patent Stove, based on original 
patents and Admiralty drawings.  Fraser’s stove was a technological marvel (see here for details) 
and was an important part of everyday shipboard life. Note the water desalinator/ice 
melting tank above the stove. 

Reference: Peter Carney has studied the technology and function of Fraser’s stove and has recently 
published a paper on its role in the Franklin disaster. His 3D reconstruction provided important 
information for The Terror.  Image Credit: Peter Carney, Erebus and Terror Files. 

The Terror Set: Fraser's Patent Stove was meticulously recreated for the production. Note the 
ice melting tank above the stove. This is one of my favorite set reconstructions. 
Photo Credit: Alex Eldridge.

Reference: Both ships had a unique sail bin placed in the central portion of the lower deck (shown on
 the left of this half-breadth cross section). Sails were usually stored on the orlop deck, but the 
sail bin was placed in the middle of the men’s sleeping quarters (on the lower deck) on 
Erebus and Terror because the locomotive engine displaced the sail room.  

The Terror Set: Despite the valuable space it took up on the cramped lower deck set, the production 
included the sail bin, and even used it to organize the men for a scene depicting their weekly 
muster.  I was very impressed by this commitment to realism, despite the challenges it 
posed for the production. Photo Credit: AMC

Once the men were forced to desert Erebus and Terror, they began leaving a trail of archeological evidence down the west coast of King William Island. Later, search parties and archaeologists collected these relics, and together with historical documents, they have formed a primary reference for the material culture of The Terror.

Historical Reference: This photo shows a piece of a runner from one of Franklin’s massive boat sledges. 

The Terror: Using the above artifact, and descriptions recorded by Francis 
Leopold McClintock, the production reconstructed the sledges at full size

Historical Reference: This is a fragment of the stem post and apron from the boat left at the 
famous “Boat Place” on King William Island, first found by McClintock’s search 
expedition. Photo Credit: AAA2282, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

Historical Reference: William Thomas Smith’s famous painting, entitled “They Forged the Last Link 
With their Lives” is a highly accurate reconstruction of the material culture found at the “Boat Place,” 
based on McClintock’s descriptions and the artifacts he recovered from King William Island. 

The Terror: Reconstructed boat and sledge based on multiple historical sources. These “lighter” 
fiberglass props were so heavy that the crew had trouble pulling them even when unloaded.  

Historical Reference: One of the actual harnesses used to pull the sledges. This one is presumed to 
have belonged to the 11th member of a sledge crew from HMS Terror. It was found at “Crozier’s 
Landing” on King William Island, where the Expedition landed when Erebus and Terror were 
deserted in April 1848. Photo Credit: AAA2261, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. 

The Terror: The cast used accurate reconstructions of the harnesses to haul their sledges. 

Historical Reference: The first men to die on the Franklin expedition were buried in very carefully 
constructed coffins on Beechey Island (before the events depicted in The Terror). 

The Terror: The art department carefully reconstructed the felt-covered coffin from Beechey 
Island for a pivotal scene in The Terror. 

Historical Reference:  The officers of the Franklin Expedition were photographed with 
a daguerreotype camera immediately prior to their departure (the camera was 
taken with them for the voyage).  From left to right, Sir John Franklin, 
James Fitzjames, and Francis Crozier. 

The Terror: The art department carefully recreated the daguerreotype images of the senior 
officers. They were made slightly larger (and with a different coating) than actual 
daguerreotypes, which are very small and notorisouly difficult to film. 
From left to right: CiarĂ¡n Hinds, Tobias Menzies, and Jared Harris.

Historical Reference: The Admiralty Board determined all aspects of Franklin’s orders and, 
when he did not return, was tasked with organizing the official Royal Navy search effort. 
Photo Reference: PAD1392, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. 

The Terror Set: The Admiralty Board scenes were shot on location at a historic property in Budapest.
Photo Credit: Aidan Monaghan/AMC

Historic Reference: This beaded purse was recovered from the “Boat Place” on King William Island. 

The Terror: The purse was carefully recreated by the art department 
for the series.

Historic Reference: Goldner’s preserved foods, packaged in lead-soldered tins, 
have been considered a critical part of the Franklin mystery for generations. 
The lead solder in the tins was suspected to be a primary source of the 
high lead content found in the remains of some of Franklin’s men.  
They were painted a unique red colour and given a special label  
providing instructions for opening them. Photo Credit: 
AAA2275, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. 

Historic Reference: Despite the vast quantity of tins brought on the Expedition, only a few well-
preserved specimens were recovered from Franklin sites on Beechey Island and King 
William Island.  Photo Credit: AAA2276, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. 

The Terror: Our "Goldner" tins recreate the images on the original labels 
(to the extent that they can be discerned), as well as the original text,
reproduced word-for-word.  The reproductions differ from the originals 
slightly; the red paint on The Terror cans is more vibrant, the labels are 
little larger, and the lead solder is highlighted on the rims; all are 
accommodations for the camera. Photo Credit: Matthew Betts

The Terror: Property Master Deryck Blake shows off an assortment of 
Goldner tins used in The Terror. Also visible are the reproduction early 
can openers, inspired by the images on the preserved labels (see above). 
Photo Credit: Matthew Betts

Historical Reference: This small book, entitled the “Vicar of Wakefield”,
 was found in the ship’s boat discovered on the shores of Erebus Bay, 
King William Island. Undoubtedly, its size was a component in its
 being brought off shipPhoto credit: AAA2154, National Maritime 

The Terror: The Vicar of Wakefield appears in a poignant scene early in the season. 
Photo Credit: Aidan Twitter/AMC.

Historical Reference: Snow blindness was a real danger for men sledging over the spring pack. 
These goggles, with copper mesh lenses, were custom-made for the march south, indicating 
the men prepared carefully before deserting the ships. Photo Reference: AAA2163, 

The Terror: The wire goggles above were faithfully reconstructed for use by the actors. 
Photo Credit: Aidan Monaghan/AMC.

Historic Reference: A pair of blue-tinted snow goggles found on King William Island is presumed 
to have protected the eyes of an officer. Photo Credit: AAA2195, National Maritime 

The Terror: Jared Harris (Francis Crozier) wears a carefully recreated pair of 
blue-tinted snow goggles in Episode 7. Photo Credit: AMC

Add captionHistorical References: “Welsh wigs”, a type of knitted toque with an ornate
border, were used by many Royal Navy arctic expeditions, including Franklin’s. A
welsh wig knitted before 1854 was donated to the St. Fagan’s National History
Museum  (F69.353), and Sally Pointer, a historic knitting enthusiast, was
recently able to recreate the pattern (download it here, or buy it here). 
Annie Symons, the brilliant costume designer for the series, used this
pattern to create dozens of welsh wigs for the cast of The Terror.
Photo Credit: Sally Pointer.

The Terror: Paul Ready (Harry Goodsir) wears his welsh wig. Photo Credit: Aidan Monaghan/AMC.

The Terror: I was given my own Welsh wig (along with frostbite, mutton 
chops, sea boots, muffler, and slops) for my brief time as an extra 
for Episode 4. Selfie Credit: Matthew Betts

Historical Reference: Annie Symons used images of real Franklin footwear to inspire her costume designs. 
This sea boot was found at Starvation Cove, on the Adelaide Peninsula. Photo Credit: AAA2296,

The Terror: Ian Hart (Thomas Blanky) in his sea boots.  
Photo Credit: Aidan Monaghan/AMC.

The Terror: Sea boots dominate this opening shot from Episode 6 .  
Video Credit: Aidan Monaghan/AMC.

Historical Reference: Lists of officer’s clothing and standard 
issue slops used on Fraklin's expedition exist, but little is 
known about the clothing the men wore when they deserted the
ships. Instead, we looked to the garments Sir Francis Leopold 
McClintock constructed for his 1857-1859 searching voyage, 
which were based on decades of polar explorers before him. 

The Terror: The men in their sledging gear. Photo Credit: Aidan Monaghan/AMC. 

Historic Reference: Dan Simmons used extensive historical research to inspire the events of his 
novel. Carnivals, balls, and masquerades were often used to liven the atmosphere of a ship 
during the darkest days of winter. This painting from HMS Terror’s first arctic voyage 
shows the bizarre and colourful costumes worn by the crew at such events. Annie 
Symons used this image to inspire her costume design for the carnival in 

The Terror: One of the brightly decorated costumes from Episode 6. 
Photo Credit: Aidan Monaghan/AMC.

This blog post provides a glimpse of just some of the more obvious historical references and Easter eggs scattered throughout the ten episodes of the series. More historical references and Easter eggs can be found in every line of the script, as some of the more knowledgeable reviewers have begun to parse out.  

When I began this project, I was, to my everlasting shame, secretly concerned that the historical references I was providing would be ignored or discarded in the interests of simplicity and cost-savings. When I walked onto the set in January of 2017 and saw Terror sitting there, canted in the ice, I instantly knew that my worries had been unwarranted. As I was led through the ship they had reconstructed, and as I picked up the artifacts they had recreated, I felt that I had walked aboard the real Terror. Later, as I toured a film crew through the sets, discussing her fittings and spaces for the camera, I was a proud officer showing off his ship. When I spent a day as an extra in Episode 4, I was an able seaman, trapped in the ice aboard the world’s greatest polar exploration vessel. These are experiences that shall never be effaced from my memory.