Published 15th June 2023

Concept of using themes

As part of a regular series on the meaning of place-names in the Territory, this latest edition focuses on the concept of using themes when naming areas in Antarctica.

Grouping names into themes is a useful tool as it is helpful for orientation and familiarisation across large areas such as the Antarctic.  As the first expeditions visited the continent they named features after their crew, supporters, and experiences.

This has evolved over time and now there are many different themes in the BAT Gazetteer. There is a ‘composers and their works’ theme on Alexander Island, including Beethoven Peninsula, Mozart Ice Piedmont, Brahms Ice Shelf and over 80 other features. Along the Peninsula there are several themes after famous novels, including Moby Dick and Gulliver’s Travels. Closer to Rothera there is a series of mountains in Stokes Peaks named after dogs and dog sledding teams that worked out of Rothera in the 1980s and early 1990s.

More recently, a group of features were named on Alexander Island after dragons. This theme was selected as the area had not been visited previously, and the field party were reminded of old maps and charts where uncharted areas were decorated with dragons and mythical beasts. Examples include Smaug Glacier, Draco Spur and Mount Wyvern!

For information about British Antarctic Territory place-names and guidelines on how to submit new proposals, visit the Committee website.


With thanks to the British Antarctic Survey for the text.