Skip to content
Jump to

Event Highlights

Includes audioListen to the Event

Discover how an impromptu expedition changed the future of a country.


Sir Joseph Banks, the influential British naturalist, botanist and patron of natural sciences was well known for accompanying Captain James Cook on the Endeavour. Redefining ideas of exploration, in 1772 he undertook the first British scientific voyage to Iceland.

Documenting the dramatic volcanic landscape for the first time and establishing friendships with the Icelandic community, his voyage helped shape the history of this remote island.

In this panel discussion, we explored Banks’ historical and scientific significance in Iceland and the North Atlantic. From a new compilation of his work, Anna Agnarsdóttir discussed his personal and scientific manuscripts from the expedition and debated his subsequent involvement with the country during the Napoleonic Wars.

In association with The Hakluyt Society

Panellists included:

  • Professor Anna Agnarsdóttir, Professor of History, University of Iceland
  • Professor Robert White FRS FGS, Professor of Geophysics, Cambridge University 
  • Professor Paul Arthur Berkman, Oceanographer, Polar Explorer and Professor of Practice in Science Diplomacy, Tufts University
  • Professor Katharine Cashman, Professor of Volcanology, University of Bristol

For all enquiries, please