Sunday, November 07, 2004


Nails among first shipment of artifacts from Queen Anne's Revenge Project


The New Bern Sun Journal
Patricia Smith

BEAUFORT -- It was tedious work as Connie Mason traced the silhouette of an 18th Century iron nail into a foam surface.

The end result was a slot, perfectly suited for the small artifact, found at the site of what is believed to be the wreckage of the pirate Blackbeard's flagship.

"I just have to do that 800 times," said Mason, collections manager for the N.C. Maritime Museum in Beaufort.More than 800 nails came in with the first shipments of artifacts moved from the Queen Anne's Revenge Project's conservation lab in Greenville to the Maritime Museum's Blackbeard Repository this fall.

The nails came from a concretion attached to one of the cannons retrieved from the shipwreck site.

They could have been on board when the ship was taken or the pirates may have kept them there for trade purposes or for use in minor repairs, said David Moore, museum nautical archaeologist and Blackbeard historian.

"I doubt very seriously that pirates would have gotten into major repairs," Moore said. "They would have just gone out and captured another ship."The nails appear similar to those that would have been used to attach sacrificial planking to the hull of the ship, Moore said. Sacrificial planking was an outside layer of wood that protected the ship from boring worms.

But that kind of repair would have required taking the ship into shallow waters and waiting for the tide to recede, Moore said. It would have made the pirates more vulnerable than they would have liked, he surmised.

The nails will be catalogued, imbedded in the foam material and encased in a display box that can quickly be moved in the event of a hurricane or some other emergency, Mason said.

This display method also provides another form of security, in that museum workers can instantly tell if a nail is missing, Mason said.Other artifacts that recently came to the repository from the conservation lab include pieces of iron from the ship's rigging, a cannonball, coal from the galley area and an intact sail needle.

Mason said she plans to complete the displays and get them out for public view in the repository by the end of the month, since more artifacts are scheduled to move then.

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