Blackbeard's cannon salvaged from shipwreck off NC
- On 27/10/2011
- In Underwater Archeology
From CBS News
A 2,000-pound cannon pulled from the waters near Beaufort Wednesday will give archeologists and historians more ammunition for separating fact from legend surrounding the infamous pirate Blackbeard.
The Queen Anne's Revenge Project brought the massive gun ashore and displayed it to the public before taking to a laboratory at East Carolina University. Onlookers cheered as the 8-foot-long gun was raised above the water's surface.
"The last people who saw this were pirates," QAR project director Mark Wilde-Ramsing told more than 100 spectators who later gathered in front of Beaufort's Maritime Museum for a closer look at the 18th century weapon.
Dozens of local residents turned out, while some Blackbeard enthusiasts drove in from other parts of the state.
"We read about it last night, and I asked the kids: are we going to skip school tomorrow and go see this?" said Joy Herndon, who made the roughly 230-mile trek from Greensboro with her children, Lucy and Kevin.
Separating the Blackbeard legend from historical facts is one of the goals of the QAR recovery effort, which has so far netted some 280,000 artifacts, said Joseph Schwarzer, director of the North Carolina Maritime Museum.
"This is about as close to that particular point in American history, and to piracy, as anybody is ever going to get," Schwarzer said.
The recovery effort involves collaboration between the state departments of Cultural Resources and Environmental and Natural Resources, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency, East Carolina University and other agencies.
The gun recovered Wednesday was the 13th cannon raised from the shipwreck.
Other items have included medical supplies, dishes, gold dust, prisoner shackles, African jewelry and small weaponry.
Schwarzer said researchers believe the ship was built as La Concorde, a French slave-trading vessel, but was commandeered by Blackbeard and his crew six months prior to its grounding near Beaufort Inlet.
Historians theorize that the ship was intentionally scuttled by Blackbeard, who then took off in a smaller boat, because he could no longer afford the expense of four ships and a pirate following estimated at 400.