Flagship Objects Set for Display
Since the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources (NCDCR) began excavating the shipwreck believed to the Queen Anne's Revenge (QAR), Blackbeard's flagship, more than 250,000 objects have been recovered from the Atlantic Ocean, near Beaufort.
All recovered artifacts go through the NCDCR QAR conservation lab located at East Carolina University in Greenville.
"Some artifacts are in a stone-like coating and are concreted together," says Chief Conservator Sarah Watkins-Kenney. "We may not know what's in them when they come up. Some objects, like ballast stones, don't take long to conserve. Some, like cannons and hull timbers, can take four or five years."
Among the finished artifacts to be displayed at the N.C. Maritime Museum in Beaufort next year are a pair of copper alloy cuff links, neither as large as a dime, which are in good condition and intact. Another item is a pewter clyster syringe (indelicacy aside), which was used for enemas. Each took about two years to conserve. The display will include a belt buckle, nesting weight, wine bottle and apothecary mortar.
David Moore, nautical archaeologist with the N.C. Maritime Museum, says all of the artifacts date to the early 18th century, the correct time for the shipwreck, which was in November 1718. Two artifacts have dates inscribed, a bell from 1705 and a cannon from 1713. There are four anchors of the correct vintage at the site, and about a quarter million lead shot have been recovered. He says other ships would not necessarily be so heavily armed, and that this is likely leftover armament from a pirate ship. There are two big factors that convince Moore this wreck is the Queen Anne's Revenge.
"Location, location, location," Moore says. "This shipwreck is where it was supposed to be, at the mouth of Beaufort Inlet. The layout looks like an abandoned ship. This ship was run aground. This is a compact site."
The presence of tiny amounts of gold dust further confirms the vessel's identity to Moore, as there was French and English documentation that the ship was carrying gold dust. But 300 years after the vessel went down, it could produce tourist gold for eastern North Carolina, according to QAR Shipwreck Project Director Mark Wilde-Ramsing.
"2018 is the 300th anniversary of the sinking of the Queen Anne's Revenge, and we are planning to have a major exhibit hall showing the artifacts in Beaufort, and other major displays in Bath and Ocracoke, places that interpret Blackbeard's life," says Wilde-Ramsing.
Wilde-Ramsing says the educational value and heritage tourism value of the shipwreck could be increased. He says they have only worked about half the site, and who knows what more they may discover.
The Queen Anne's Revenge Shipwreck Project is administered by the Underwater Archaeology Branch, with assistance from the N.C. Maritime Museum, both within the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.
Information is available at www.ncculture.com.
More like this story