North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort
By Jannette Pippin - EncToday
A ship’s bell that was one of the first artifacts raised from the Queen Anne’s Revenge shipwreck now stands at the entrance of the most comprehensive display of artifacts from the wreck believed to be the flagship of infamous pirate Blackbeard.
The bell, pewter plates, cannons and coin weights are among the more than 300 artifacts that are now part of the new Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge Exhibit at the N.C. Maritime Museum in Beaufort. The exhibit opens to the public on Saturday.
The artifacts date the QAR shipwreck from 1700 to 1725 and help to tell the story of Blackbeard, his flagship and the place piracy had in North Carolina’s history.
“They are all like bits of clues (into that time period),” said David Bennett, a museum collections intern who helped to give tours for those who got an early preview.
The exhibit begins with a bit of history about Blackbeard, and from the start it’s clear that many mysteries still remain about the man, who was also known as Edward Teach or Edward Thatch and spent time as a licensed privateer before turning to piracy.
A model of how the Queen Anne’s Revenge likely looked sits in one corner of the exhibit and not far from it are display boards that tell of its demise. In 1718, Blackbeard ran his ship aground in Beaufort Inlet, roughly two miles from where the museum stands today. A map shows what shoaling may have looked like in the area at that time, but it’s still not known whether it was shifting sands or other reason that led to Blackbeard’s actions.
“We don’t know exactly why he ran aground,” Bennett explained. “It could have been accidental, that’s one possibility. A second possibility is that he intentionally grounded the ship.”
In one section of the exhibit, small vials hold flecks of gold dust recovered from the QAR site, but absent from the inventory of artifacts has been a large find of gold.