Fresh Catch: Two Cannon Raised from the Wreck of Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge

ATLANTIC BEACH, NC August 20, 2013 – Two weapons last touched by pirates almost 300 years ago surfaced from the depths of the Atlantic Ocean and are among new artifacts captured Friday in a fall dive expedition. Cannon balls, rigging gear and sounding weights encased in a cement-like shell were recovered Monday from Blackbeard’s wrecked flagship, Queen Anne’s Revenge (QAR).

A cannon raised from Blackbeard's Queen Anne Revenge last Friday.

A cannon raised from Blackbeard’s Queen Anne Revenge last Friday.

Researchers from the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources’ Underwater Archeology Branch recovered two of the smaller cannons from the shipwreck. These would have been used for close firing at ships being pursued by Blackbeard’s pirate crew. This makes a total of 17 cannons that have been reclaimed from the wreck site near Beaufort. The rigging was part of the sail structure, and the sounding weights were used to determine the ocean depth.

Rough seas and rain showers did not dampen the determination or enthusiasm of the excavation team. “We are happy to retrieve two more guns as part of the fall season dive efforts,” says Project Director Billy Ray Morris.

The iron cannons weigh about 500 pounds each, unlike the pair of 2,000 pound cannons that were recovered in June. These smaller cannons could be raised and transported on the work boat, so another vessel for the lift was unneeded. The cannons and other artifacts will go directly to the QAR lab for conservation, a process that for cannons could take up to five years to remove salts from the iron and prevent deterioration or the metal flaking away. An extensive exhibit of QAR artifacts is at the N.C. Maritime Museum in Beaufort.

Recovery of eight cannons was the plan for the earlier dive, but was prevented by unfavorable sea conditions. Four of the eight remain to be recovered. The researchers will work on the site through October, and hope to arrange for a larger boat to lift the heavier cannons. They also plan to make significant recovery of other artifacts, and full artifact recovery is planned for 2014.

The Queen Anne’s Revenge ran aground in Beaufort in June 1718. Intersal, Inc., a private research firm, discovered the site believed to be Queen Anne’s Revenge Nov. 21, 1996.

QAR was located near Beaufort Inlet, N.C., by Intersal’s director of operations, Mike Daniel, who used historical research provided by Intersal’s president, Phil Masters. Daniel now heads up Maritime Research Institute, the nonprofit corporation formed to work on the project in cooperation with state archaeologists and historians of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources.

For information please call (919) 807-7389. The Underwater Archaeology Branch and the N.C. Maritime Museum are within the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.

About the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources
The N.C. Department of Cultural Resources (NCDCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state’s cultural resources to build the social, cultural and economic future of North Carolina. Led by Secretary Susan Kluttz, NCDCR’s mission is to enrich lives and communities by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history and libraries in North Carolina that will spark creativity, stimulate learning, preserve the state’s history and promote the creative economy. NCDCR was the first state organization in the nation to include all agencies for arts and culture under one umbrella.

Through arts efforts led by the N.C. Arts Council, the N.C. Symphony and the N.C. Museum of Art, NCDCR offers the opportunity for enriching arts education for young and old alike and spurring the economic stimulus engine for our state’s communities. NCDCR’s Divisions of Archives and Records, Historical Resources, State Historic Sites and State History Museums preserve, document and interpret North Carolina’s rich cultural heritage to offer experiences of learning and reflection. NCDCR’s State Library of North Carolina is the principal library of state government and builds the capacity of all libraries in our state to develop and to offer access to educational resources through traditional and online collections including genealogy and resources for the blind and physically handicapped.

NCDCR annually serves more than 19 million people through its 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, the nation’s first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the N.C. Arts Council and the State Archives. NCDCR champions our state’s creative industry that accounts for more than 300,000 jobs and generates nearly $18.5 billion in revenues. For more information, please call (919) 807-7300 or visit