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Blackbeard's Cannons Haven't Seen the Light of Day for Centuries – Until Now

Blackbeard captured a French slave ship and renamed it Queen Anne's Revenge in 1717. Volunteers with the Royal Navy killed Blackbeard in Ocracoke Inlet the following year, five months after the ship sank. There's a $450,000 effort under way to remove all the artifacts from the ship by the end of next year. (AP/The Jacksonville Daily News, Chuck Beckley)

This week archaeologists brought up several cannons from the watery grave of the legendary pirate Blackbeard's ship, sunk of the coast of North Carolina nearly three centuries ago.

Queen Annes Revenge cannon In this Thursday, June 20, 2013 photo, divers emerge with one of two cannons raised from the wreck of the Queen Anne's Revenge off the coast of Carteret County, N.C. (AP/The Jacksonville Daily News, Chuck Beckley)

Weighing up to 3,000 pounds, five cannons were lifted off the coast of Beaufort Monday from the wreck of the "Queen Anne's Revenge," bringing the total number of cannons brought to the surface from the ship to 20.

“We think the largest of the four cannons may be of Swedish origin since the only other recovered gun this size was made in Sweden,” Billy Ray Morris, the project director with the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, said in a statement. “We also hope to recover two large concretions each the size of a twin bed. They may contain barrel hoops, cannon balls and other treasures.”

Blackbeard captured a French slave ship and renamed it Queen Anne's Revenge in 1717. Volunteers with the Royal Navy killed Blackbeard in Ocracoke Inlet the following year, five months after the ship sank. There's a $450,000 effort under way to remove all the artifacts from the ship by the end of next year. (AP/The Jacksonville Daily News, Chuck Beckley)

Bringing up the iron cannons weighing thousands of pounds required the U.S. Coast Guard's 200-ton, intercoastal cutter "Smilax."

Led by the Underwater Archaeology Branch of the department, the excavation of the pirate's shipwreck also yielded anchors, gold dust, animal bones, lead shot and medical and scientific instruments. About 280,000 artifacts from 60 percent of the site have been recovered.

Blackbeards Ship A 3,000 pound anchor from what is believed to be the wreck of the pirate Blackbeard's flagship, the Queen Anne's Revenge, is recovered from the ocean where it has been since 1718, on Friday, May 27, 2011 in Beaufort Inlet, in Carteret County N.C. Crew member Mitchel Gilliland, right, helps guide the anchor aboard the Dan K. Moore. (AP/The News & Observer, Robert Willett)

The excavation of the site should be complete by 2014. Artifacts will be featured at the Queen Anne’s Revenge exhibit in the North Carolina Maritime Museum.

Watch the cannon raising in this footage courtesy of Havelock News:

According to National Geographic, Blackbeard, chased by Lieutenant Robert Maynard of the Royal Navy in 1718, sent by then Virginia Governor Alexander Spotswood, ended up getting his ship stuck on a sandbar, which would be its final resting place.

Apparently boarding Maynard's ship, which was also stuck, Blackbeard was shot by the lieutenant and, as a warning to other pirates, had his head cut off and hung on the front of the Navy ship.

(H/T: Popular Science)

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