We all know what they were but have you ever seen one: that is a real one ? This comes from the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich London.


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.

As I write this, the weevils are on summer leave.