Sunday, May 29, 2005


Blackbeard stemware aids experts


The Daily News
By Patricia Smith
May 27, 2005

ATLANTIC BEACH - A broken piece of stemware found by divers this week on the shipwreck thought to have belonged to the pirate Blackbeard gives archaeologists more evidence that they're dealing with a very early 18th century vessel.

The four-sided design of the stem of a wineglass dates the artifact to between 1710 and 1720, but there's an even more telling characteristic, said Linda Carnes-McNaughton, an archaeologist at Fort Bragg who specializes in historic ceramics.

"The stem is embossed with little diamonds and little crowns because it's commemorating the coronation of George I," said McNaughton, who volunteers her professional services to the Queen Anne's Revenge Project.

King George I, a German, took the throne of England in 1714 after the death of Queen Anne. The Queen Anne's Revenge, Blackbeard's flagship, ran aground in Beaufort Inlet in 1718.

These Silesian wine glasses - named for a region of Germany - were popular in Germany and France but were never widely adopted by the English, Carnes-McNaughton said.

"They weren't rare, but they weren't common," she said.

They were made of leaded glass, which is clear but not as delicate as the elaborate crystal that came later and still made today, she said.

The wine glass - missing its base and about half its bowl - was found Wednesday at the stern of the vessel in an area archaeologists believe was the captain's quarters.

Divers made another major discovery in that area Thursday.

"We found the sternpost," said QAR Project Director Mark Wilde-Ramsing.

The sternpost is a large piece of timber at the keel of the boat that connects to the ends of the vessel's planking and supports the rudder. Divers found iron rudder straps, called gudgeons, attached to the sternpost, as well, Wilde-Ramsing said.

"It's a key section of the vessel," he said.

And it's well preserved, he said.

Divers did not try to raise the sternpost. They were not sure how big it was and, with the monthlong expedition at the site ending today, there was not enough time to find out, Wilde-Ramsing said.

Divers were able Thursday to retrieve an 8-foot-long cannon they had attempted to bring up Tuesday.

The winch on the research vessel Martech, from Cape Fear Community College, had pulled a 6-foot-long cannon from the waters earlier in the day but was not strong enough to hoist the bigger one, which weighed around 2,500 pounds, Wilde-Ramsing said.

Thursday, the project borrowed the vessel West Bay from the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries for the task. It was the eighth cannon hoisted from the site since the original discovery.


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