Skip to content
What's on

Banks in the land of ice and fire

History of science

Event audio


18:30 - 20:00


The Royal Society, London, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AG


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.

Iceland. Image credit: CC BY 2.0

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

Banks in the land of ice and fire

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

The Royal Society, London 6-9 Carlton House Terrace London SW1Y 5AG UK
Was this page useful?
Thank you for your feedback
Thank you for your feedback. Please help us improve this page by taking our short survey.