Ship's biscuit

Providing food at sea was a major problem for both naval and merchant shipping from the 17th century onwards. Several methods of preserving were available to early mariners, particularly smoking and salting. Such methods did not however provide ships' crews with a healthy diet. Some effort went into provisioning ships with fresh food, but on longer voyages this was not possible. The ship's biscuit, has come to signify all that was poor about the early seafaring diet.

The biscuit is circular and perforated with holes to aid baking process, and backed with paper. It is from one of Sir John Ross's Arctic expeditions 1818, or 1829-33. It may also be from the cache of food left at Fury beach in 1825 by Parry's expedition.

Object Details

ID: AAB0010
Collection: Food and related equipment
Type: Ship's biscuit
Display location: Display - Polar Worlds Gallery
Date made: Early 19th century; circa 1829
Exhibition: North-West Passage; Nelson, Navy, Nation
People: Young, W (RN)
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Royal United Service Institution Collection
Measurements: Overall: 15 x 135 mm

Your Request

If an item is shown as “offsite”, please allow eight days for your order to be processed. For further information, please contact Archive staff:

Tel: (during Library opening hours)

Click “Continue” below to continue processing your order with the Library team.