Sunday, May 15, 2005


Shipwreck site yields 24th cannon


Carteret News Times
By Cheryl Burke
May 13, 2005

Sarah Watkins-Kenny, project conservator for the
Queen Anne's Revenge project, places water on artifacts
retrieved from the shipwreck site Thursday. State
underwater archaeologists have discovered a 24th cannon
this week at the shipwreck, yet another confirmation to
archaeologists that the shipwreck is the QAR .
(Cheryl Burke photo)

BEAUFORT — State underwater archaeologists have discovered a 24th cannon this week at the shipwreck believed to be the pirate Blackbeard’s flagship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge (QAR).

It’s yet another confirmation to archaeologists that the shipwreck is the QAR.

"The more guns we find, the more it fits the profile of the QAR," said Richard Lawrence, director of the state’s Underwater Archaeology Unit.

He added there are no other shipwrecks on record in the area that fit the profile of that much armament.

Historical records indicate the QAR was formerly the La Concorde, a French slave ship that Blackbeard seized and added armament to before sinking in 1718 near Beaufort Inlet.

Wednesday’s discovery is part of a month-long dive expedition to retrieve artifacts and continue research.

The 8 1/2-foot cannon, which archaeologists estimate weighs 2,000 pounds, will be brought up toward the end of the month along with one or two others that were previously discovered. The expedition is scheduled to end May 27.

Six cannons have already been recovered. A survey done with a magnetic gradiometer (detects the presence of metal) suggests that even more cannons are buried at the site.

The cannon fired 6-pound cannonballs, making it the 17th 6-pounder discovered at the site. Four 4-pounders, two 1-pounders and one 1/2-pounder have also been found.

"I feel certain there’s another 6-pounder because in reality they needed to keep things symmetrical with their primary armament so the ship wouldn’t list. That means they needed an even number of larger armament," said state archaeologist Nathan Henry.

The most recent cannon was discovered on the western end of the site believed to be the bow area.

Archaeologists have brought up several other artifacts since the expedition began on May 2. Divers have recovered an 18th century onion bottle, pieces of pewter, ballast stones, which were used to weight the ship, and several concretions, which are artifacts cemented together by sand, rust and shells.

They’ve also retrieved a 17-inch by 12-inch piece of wooden hull structure, and several cask hoops, which were the metal pieces wrapped around storage casks.

Archaeologists plan to bring up several more artifacts by the end of the month, including the cannons.

This month’s haul of artifacts will join the estimated 20,000 others that have been retrieved from the site since its discovery in 1996 by Intersal Inc., a research firm based out of Beaufort. The site has since been turned over to the state Department of Cultural Resources.

Other artifacts already retrieved include a ship’s bell, ammunition, pewter and ship’s fitting (sails, rigging and instruments).

Artifacts retrieved this month will be transported to the research lab at East Carolina University in Greenville. They will be conserved and eventually put on display at the N.C. Maritime Museum in Beaufort, which is curator of artifacts.

State underwater archaeologists began preparing the site May 2 for excavation and recovery of artifacts from 16 squares — each 5 feet by 5 feet — placed at the site.

"The squares allow us to have a good sampling and be able to compare parts of the site to better confirm the ship’s positioning, such as where the galley was," said QAR Project Director Mark Wilde-Ramsing.

Updates on this month’s expedition will be placed on the Queen Anne’s Revenge Web site at
Those wanting to see activity firsthand can go to Fort Macon State Park. Looking out from the ramparts of the fort, people will be able to see the recovery vessels anchored on the site. Binoculars are advisable.


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