Saturday, May 20, 2006

 

Get a look, while you can

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The Daily News
By Patricia Smith
May 16,2006


ATLANTIC BEACH — It hasn’t been off the ocean floor for nearly 300 years. But once it is, it will be going on display.

After underwater archaeologists raise a cannon from the Queen Anne’s Revenge shipwreck site Wednesday, it will be on public display for one hour — noon to 1 p.m. — at Fort Macon State Park.

“If you don’t see it then, you won’t see it for awhile,” said QAR Project Director Mark Wilde-Ramsing.

At least not the real McCoy.

A replica of the cannon is featured in the foreground of a QAR shipwreck display at the newly renovated North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, which opens to the public Friday.

Following the viewing, the real cannon will be taken to the QAR Conservation Lab in Greenville for a 3- to 4-year cleaning and preservation process.

To expose the rusting iron to the air for more than an hour would risk harm to the artifact and any identifying maker marks on it, Wilde-Ramsing said.

“Normally it would be wrapped up and go right back into water,” he said.

But it is also important, Wilde-Ramsing said, for the public to get a chance to see how the cannon looks right after it comes up from the sea. It will give people a better understanding of why the conservation aspect takes up 90 percent of the time and cost of underwater archaeology, he said.

“They don’t come up clean and pristine,” Wilde- Ramsing said.

This cannon, a six-foot-long weapon that probably fired a four-pound cannonball, has a number of other, smaller artifacts stuck to it in a concreted shell, Wilde-Ramsing said.

“It’ll be interesting to look at,” he said.

The cannon will be raised from the southeast margin of the main artifact pile near a cluster of five other cannons, two large anchors and tons of ballast stones.

It will be the ninth cannon raised from the wreck site since it was discovered in November 1996 by the Florida-based research company Intersal.

Archaeologists believe the 18th Century shipwreck may be the Queen Anne’s Revenge, the pirate Blackbeard’s flagship that ran aground in Beaufort Inlet in 1718.

The cannon can be seen from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday in the fort parking lot at Fort Macon State Park. In case of inclement weather, retrieval and display of the cannon will be delayed until Thursday, Wilde-Ramsing said.

State underwater archaeologists plan to wrap up the two-week diving expedition at the site on Saturday.


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