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It’s time to go back to sea for QAR archaeologists

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Posted: Saturday, August 3, 2013 11:55 pm

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; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.

  • Discuss

Welcome to the discussion.


  • DonnaSirmans posted at 5:00 am on Thu, Oct 31, 2013.

    DonnaSirmans Posts: 1

    This is impressive. I will now have a chance to document the said activity. I also perform scuba diving on peak seasons and this is one of my goals this year. I'm looking forward to get the experience and share it on my scheduled diving seminars and lessons in some of the best dive spots in Cebu.

  • clammerhead posted at 8:31 pm on Wed, Aug 7, 2013.

    clammerhead Posts: 760

    Kind of hard to believe anything you hear about Blackbeard when there are so many non-truths told in promoting his presence and character while in Beaufort.


  • morehood city res posted at 5:01 pm on Mon, Aug 5, 2013.

    morehood city res Posts: 384

    I think there were reports filed with the royal navy at the time of ships run aground in the old topsail inlet believed to be pirate ships. These incidents occurred after Blackbeard had blockaded the port at Charleston. The evidence since recovered has led archeologists to believe that this shipwreck is that of the Queen Anne's Revenge.There was a very good lecture last friday at the NC Maritime Museum on this subject, from the early days of Blacbeard to up to date progress on the recovery operations.

  • really posted at 6:19 pm on Sun, Aug 4, 2013.

    really Posts: 30

    What historical records? I always heard they were "pretty sure" it was Blackbeard's ship. Nothing yet positive it was.


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