Latest News From Beaufort Inlet

The Queen Anne’s Revenge Shipwreck Project has posted a summary of their 2010 fall field season:

A total of 122 objects were recovered from the wreck site during the field season. Sixty-five concretions of varying sizes have the potential for containing hundreds of individual artifacts. These concretions will be X-rayed at the conservation lab to help identify what may be contained within. Some artifacts readily apparent on gross external examination include: cannon balls, cask hoops, a pewter plate, and the largest object recovered this season — multiple segments of a deadeye strop with the wood deadeye intact, likely from the port side main mast chain plate.

Drawing of the QAR from the Project’s 1999 management plan.

Blackbeard Artifacts Displayed

Reporters were given a gander at some of the artifacts raised from Blackbeard’s ship:

David Moore, nautical archaeologist with the N.C. Maritime Museum, said 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 said other ships would not necessarily be so heavily armed, and that this is likely leftover armament from a pirate ship.

The article goes on to speculate that Queen Anne’s Revenge could be to North Carolina tourism what the HL Hunley is to South Carolina tourism. But judging from this year’s field report, that may be some time coming since funding for major recovery is not apparent:

Nearly two feet of sand has been deposited in most places since the lowest point recorded in 2005 and is at levels not seen since the shipwreck’s discovery in 1996. With no funding to continue full recovery operations, this is a good development. When sand covers artifacts it is generally conducive to artifact preservation because it puts them in an anaerobic environment and buffers impacts from currents and critters.

Anchor Update

Back in October, members of The Queen Anne’s Revenge Shipwreck Project raised a grapnel (seen in the foreground to the right) from the wreck of Blackbeard’s ship. I dropped an e-mail to the Project asking if data from an experiment measuring iron corrosion on another anchor influenced the decision to raise the grapnel now.

Wendy Welsh, QAR Conservator, kindly responded:

Actually the data from the in situ monitoring project did not influence our decision to raise the grapnel anchor.  The grapnel anchor was loose from the main ballast pile and to avoid further impacts from strong storm currents the decision was made to recover the anchor. A report about our week long field expedition will be posted on our home page soon.

Remember, kids: jacksonkuhl.com — your one-stop source for pirate archaeology news.

Photo from the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources Rick Allen, Nautilus Productions.

Hoist the Anchor

Marine archaeologists have raised a small anchor from the site believed to be the wreck of Blackbeard’s ship:

Archaeologists and conservators with the state Department of Cultural Resources say the grapnel was at risk of washing away after nearly 300 years in the sea and might not weather possible storms until next year, when a full-scale expedition is planned.

Since last fall, The Queen Anne’s Revenge Shipwreck Project has been using another anchor, still in situ, to measure iron corrosion at the site and thereby draw an overall picture of the stability of the ship’s iron artifacts. Have to wonder if measurements from that experiment influenced the archaeologists’ decision to raise the grapnel now.

I can’t wait to read about what they find next season. Screw Ardi; for my money, this is the biggest thing to hit archaeology since Whydah was found.

Also: If you’re in or around Raleigh, don’t miss the Knights of the Black Flag exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of History. Looks terrific.