Raising Queen Anne’s Revenge

MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. (AP) _ North Carolina state underwater archaeologists plan to raise a cannon from a sunken ship that could have belonged the pirate Blackbeard. They plan to raise the roughly 8-foot-long cannon weighing about 2,500 pounds as part of an ongoing excavation project at the presumed site of Queen Anne’s Revenge.

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A cast bronze church or ship’s bell was recovered from the Beaufort Inlet site in 1996. The bell is dated 1705 and was one of the first clues that divers discovered an early eighteenth century shipwreck. The bell features the Roman Catholic invocation IHS MARIA [ Iesus Hominum Salvator], perhaps indication a Spanish or Portuguese origin. The bell may have been obtained when Blackbeard captured a Spanish sloop off the coast of Cuba.

    The cannon would be on display Wednesday for the public at the N.C. Maritime Museum expansion site at Gallants Channel in Beaufort. The current three-month expedition began in August and is expected to recover thousands of artifacts. Historians believe the Queen Anne’s Revenge ran aground in Beaufort Inlet in June 1718. State archaeologists have researched the shipwreck for 10 years, but are still waiting to find an indisputable link to Blackbeard.

Background of the Expedition
   
    On a fateful day in November 1996, as divers with Intersal, Inc, were winding down their search for shipwrecks in Beaufort Inlet, they discovered a room-sized mound of cannons, anchors, and ballast stones. Eight years before, in 1988, the private research firm had received a permit from the North Carolina Underwater Archaeology Branch, (UAB) to search for the remains of Queen Anne’s Revenge and Adventure in Beaufort Inlet. Intersal also held a permit to search the same area for the Spanish ship El Salvador, which was lost in 1750.

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This wrought iron hook was completely corroded and only a hollow mold of the original artifact survived in the surrounding concretion. Conservators cleaned and filled the natural cavity with epoxy resin in order to replicate the disintegrated artifact. The parina on the exterior of the cast is actually the metallic remnants of the original artifacts surface. Hooks such as this were used extensively in ship’s rigging and tackle, as well as in the manipulation of cargo and heavy ordinance.  

    For nearly 10 years, Intersal conducted intermittent surveys in Beaufort Inlet with little result. Then, in 1996, Intersal hired shipwreck researcher Mike Daniel to direct field operations. Using historical accounts provided by Intersal President Phil Masters, Daniel selected a survey area that he felt encompassed the inlet’s early-eighteenth century entrance channel and bar. At the time of discovery, the Intersal crew recovered several artifacts dating to the early-eighteenth century including a brass blunderbuss barrel and a bronze bell with a date of 1705.
   
    After a brief site visit and an inspection of the small collection of recovered artifacts, state underwater archaeologists agreed that the site was quite possibly the remains of Blackbeard’s flagship Queen Anne’s Revenge, which was known to have been lost at that location in 1718. Following months of secrecy, during which agreements were arrived at between Intersal, its nonprofit entity Maritime Research Institute and the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, the find was announced with great fanfare and interest throughout the world. The work began in the fall of 1997. It was to be the most ambitious archaeological assessment of a N.C. shipwreck since the discovery of the Civil War ironclad USS Monitor three decades earlier

Update: Artifacts  Shown At North Carolina Maritime Museum
   
    On June 12th eighty-four QAR artifact numbers containing 1,942 individual artifacts were transferred to the North Carolina Maritime Museum (NCMM) in Beaufort. Artifacts included: gold grains, a copper alloy weight, a cockerel finial, pewter chargers, lead tacks, brick fragments, glass beads, a case bottle base, a bottleneck with cork, ceramic sherds, a pipe tamper, a pipe bowl and pipe stem fragments, cask hoop fragments and over 1,200 lead shot.

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    The most interesting artifact was recovered in the Fall 2006 season. At first glance you would think this was a coin but it is actually a coin weight. On the obverse (head side) the legend reads “ANNA DEI GRATIA” around a left facing portrait bust of Queen Anne. On the other side (the reverse) there is a crown and below reads a “1”, then “GUINEA” and below is a “W”. Each monarch issued their own coinage and coin weights with their portraits on one side. As this legend indicates, Queen Anne issued this coin weight and therefore we can date its manufacture to her reign 1702-1714. A coin weight is a piece of metal that exactly reproduces the weight of a known coin, in this case a 1 Guinea gold coin. It was used to check if the actual coin was of the proper weight and fineness. It could also be used for weighing out the amount of gold dust equivalent to a 1 Guinea coin. Gold guineas were first made in 1663 and nicknamed guinea because that was where the gold came from.

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    In early November of last year, a small cannon (C25) embedded in concretion was recovered in the stern area of the ship from Unit 94. The cannon was visible in the concretion but it was also evident that other artifacts surrounded it. The cannon concretion was x-rayed at the North Carolina Museum of Art on November 15th. The x-ray images not only revealed the shape of the gun and the presence of a yoke or rail mount, but also allowed us to see the other artifacts around the gun such as fasteners, lead shot and glass beads. Photographs and drawings were used to document the process as C25 was removed from concretion. Using the x-ray images as a guide, large sections of concretion were removed from around the gun leaving C25 and the yoke still encrusted in concretion. Once the concretion was cleaned from the surface of the gun, a 19.1in(48.5cm) bronze cannon was revealed, however no visible marks were found. The yoke attached to the gun was outlined and the condition of the wrought iron is very degraded. Cannon 25 and its yoke will continue the desalination process and any new information learned will be posted.

Story and photos courtesy of
Queen Anne’s Revenge Shipwreck Project
Underwater Archaeology Branch
3431 Arendell Street, Morehead City, NC 28557 USA
252-726-6841 x157,
Web site: www.qaronline.org

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