Hundred-year-old fruitcake found in Antarctic hut

An ancient fruitcake, thought to be at least 106 years old, has been discovered in an "as new" condition in a remote Antarctic hut.

Conservators from the Antarctic Heritage Trust in Christchurch, New Zealand, believe the delicacy was brought to Cape Adare by Robert Falcon Scott's northern party in 1911, and preserved by the freezing conditions ever since.

The trust's artefacts manager, Lizzie Meek, says her team, who are working to conserve several historic huts in the area, were surprised to find the cake still looked edible.

"It looks like new which is quite fantastic, it doesn't quite smell quite like new, it smells a little bit of rancid butter, but it looks beautiful," she says.

"The conditions down there are obviously frozen for most of the year, and that has preserved the cake really, really well, and on top of that it's been protected by the tin, and while the tin has almost entirely disintegrated the outside atmosphere hadn't got the cake."

What the cake tastes like after a century on the ice will remain a mystery, as it's unethical for conservators to taste-test their finds.

"The fruit cake will go back to where it came from on a shelf in the hut and I guess the story is out there and visitors to the site will be able to see that tin," Ms Meek says.

"Cape Adare gets regularly visited by cruise ships who tour the Ross Sea region, it's a very popular stopping place for them. It's difficult to get to, but a few hundred people every year get to those huts."

The project has just wrapped up after a 14-month effort to recover 1464 artefacts, including tools, clothing and other food items.