Five Cannons Recovered From Blackbeard's Ship

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In 1718, the legendary pirate Edward Teach, AKA Blackbeard, sank the Queen Anne's Revenge off the coast of Beaufort, NC after the flagship accidentally ran aground in the shallows. For nearly 300 years, the ship rested and rusted, until 1996 saw the beginnings of an archaeological excavation to recover the vessel and its contents.

In 1997 when the team began their excavations, they had eliminated virtually every other sunken ship from the era on the basis of the cannons; in historical reports, no other ship carried as many cannons of the size they observed as Blackbeard's.

As the years went by and the excavations slowly continued, 2011 saw another big discovery from the wreck: a series of improvised missiles and weaponry designed to inflict terror rather than damage. At that time, dives had yielded bags of grape shot, chained cannonballs used to disable rigging, and improvised anti-personnel charges.

The latest update from the site, with assistance from the U.S. Coast Guard, has the archaeological team recovering the largest collection of artifacts yet from the wreck of the Queen Anne's Revenge.

To date, Popular Archaeology reports that the team has recovered 29 of the ship's 40 guns, and over a quarter of a million artifacts, including but hardly limited to: a bronze bell; an English blunderbuss barrel; a lead cannon apron; 2 huge anchors, and 2 cannonballs.

[The North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources]

The additional discovery of 20 cannons, medical instruments, gold grains, glass wine bottles, and pieces of ceramic led researchers to succinctly conclude they were dealing with the wreck of the Queen Anne's Revenge.

[The North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources]

Project director Billy Ray Morris speculated about the origins of the cannons in a press release. "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," he said, "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."

[The North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources]

Four cast-iron guns recovered on Oct. 28 weighed 2,000 pounds, and a fifth weighed 3,000. The team expects to recover the rest of the wreck by 2014. Be sure to check out the pictures featured in the online Blackbeard/Queen Anne's Revenge museum!

[Main Image via Wikimedia Commons]

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