Ship was Blackbeard’s vessel
- On 12/06/2011
- In Underwater Archeology
Photo Robert Willett
By Jay Price - Nashua Telegraph
North Carolina has quietly decided that the cannon-laden shipwreck just off Fort Macon is absolutely that of Blackbeard the pirate’s flagship, the “Queen Anne’s Revenge,” ending 15 years of official uncertainty.
No more caveats, not in news releases, scholarly presentations by state archaeologists or on museum exhibits about the ship like the one that opens Saturday at the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort.
“We have now changed our position, and we are quite categorically saying that it’s the Queen Anne’s Revenge,” said Jeffrey Crow, deputy secretary for the Office of Archives and History of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, which oversees the efforts to recover and display the remains of the ship.
After so many years of historical research and the recovery and analysis of tens of thousands of artifacts, the body of evidence was overwhelming and convincing, said Crow, who had been one of the main voices urging caution against declaring a positive identification too early.
Crow said he had believed for years that it was the Queen Anne’s Revenge. Professionalism as a historian, though, dictated caution, despite arguments from supporters of the recovery project that not only was the evidence good enough, but that a firm identification would make it easier to win ongoing state funding for the effort.
From the beginning, archaeologists on the project have had to piece together funding from a hodgepodge of sources. The Legislature has never regularly funded their work, despite the huge tourism potential of such an old wreck even if the ship wasn’t Blackbeard’s, and despite the risk that a large storm could damage the site, which had been covered by a protective blanket of sand for much of its history.
The positive identification may make it easier to get private money needed to raise the rest of the ship and artifacts by the target date of late 2013 – $100,000 for each of the next three years. But the decision wasn’t about money, Crow said, it was about overwhelming evidence.
Finally tipping the scales, he said, was the acceptance of a paper flatly declaring the identity of the wreck by the respected scholarly journal “Historical Archaeology.” The paper, written by Mark Wilde-Ramsing, a deputy state archaeologist and head of the Queen Anne’s Revenge project, and Charles Ewen of the anthropology faculty at East Carolina University, is expected to be published later this year or early in 2012.
It cited key facts such as the location, historical accounts, dates on various artifacts and dates and places of origin that can be extrapolated from others with known makers or periods of manufacture.