BEAUFORT — State underwater archaeologists will return Monday to begin the fall dive season at the Queen Anne’s Revenge shipwreck in Beaufort Inlet.
Divers will continue excavation of the site through Oct. 31, according to Billy Ray Morris, QAR project director and Deputy State Archaeologist.
Mr. Morris said he’s trying to find a vessel large enough to hoist more cannons in the fall, but still had not found one.
“We’d like to bring up the cannons we had to leave behind this spring,” he said during a telephone interview Tuesday.
Archaeologists had hoped to bring up eight cannons in May and June, but high winds and waves prevented them from reaching their goal. They did manage in June to bring up two cannons that are six-pounders (shot 6-pound cannonballs).
Those two make 15 cannons retrieved from the site since its discovery in November 1996, according to Sarah Watkins-Kenney, chief archaeology conservator for the project. She said 27 cannons have been discovered at the site so far.
Mr. Morris said archaeologists would continue systematic excavation of the site, bringing up other artifacts. The goal is to retrieve all artifacts by the end of 2014.
The goal can still be reached if good progress is made this fall, according to Mr. Morris.
“We’ll be digging like a bunch of beavers this fall, and hopefully the weather will cooperate,” he said.
Once retrieved, artifacts are transported to the QAR lab in Greenville. There they undergo cleaning and conservation in preparation for display at the N.C. Maritime Museum in Beaufort, which is responsible for curatorship of artifacts.
Since exploration of the shipwreck began in 1997, about 280,000 artifacts have been recovered, including cannons, anchors, ship’s bell, medical and navigational instruments, grenades and platters. Many of those items are on display at the N.C. Maritime Museum, and others are part of traveling exhibits around the state.
The QAR wreck was located in November 1996 by Intersal Inc., with information provided to Operations Director Mike Daniel by company president Phil Masters. Archaeologists with the Underwater Archaeology Branch in the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources lead the research on this shipwreck.
Historical records show that the pirate Blackbeard ran the Queen Anne’s Revenge aground in Beaufort in 1718.
Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email Cheryl@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.