Polar Record


Oppegård kirke, Oppegård, Norway: fixing the location where Roald Amundsen revealed his ‘minor diversion’

P.J. Capelottia1 and Susan Barra2

a1 Penn State University Abington College, Abington, PA 19001 USA (pjc12@psu.edu)

a2 Riksantikvaren/Directorate for Cultural Heritage, P.O. Box 8196 Dep, N-0034 Oslo Norway


After learning in the first week of September 1909 that the North Pole had been claimed, the career and prospects of the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen hung in the balance. Scheduled to lead an exploration of the north polar basin, Amundsen suddenly found himself without adequate funding or a clear objective. His self-described ‘coup’ to turn southwards and reach for the South Pole was perhaps the most dramatic and best-kept secret in the history of polar exploration. Amundsen shared his decision only with a very select few, including his brother and manager, Leon Amundsen, a scene dramatised in the 1985 television mini-series The last place on earth. The location used in the film is identified at the unusual grave markers of the Ingier family outside Oppegård kirke in Oppegård, Norway, about five km from the site of Amundsen's home on Bunnefjorden, a branch of Oslofjord.

(Received November 2012)

(Online publication March 11 2013)