Donations extend Blackbeard site excavation

Posted October 19, 2012

— Gov. Bev Perdue announced Friday that  the N.C. Maritime Museum in Beaufort has raised more than $400,000 to continue research and excavation at the site of the sunken Queen Anne's Revenge for another three years.

A Chapel Hill couple, Eric and Rita Bigham, fished into their savings for the final $32,000. All of the funds came from private donors.

The museum hosted a celebration Friday to mark the end of an eight-week expedition to recover artifacts from the ship believed to have belonged to Blackbeard and to announce the funding milestone.

"I've always said that if we wanted to give our money to charity, we should do it now while we are alive and can see the fruits of our labor," Rita Bigham said.

Since 1997, several of the cannons and more than 250,000 artifacts have been retrieved including gold, platters, glass, beads, rope, the anchor and several ballast stones. Pirate artifacts Beaufort museum has Blackbeard's booty

"More than 34,000 additional artifacts remain at risk under the sea, including 12 cannons, 2 anchors and 4,000 concretions. Time is critical," said Linda Carlisle, North Carolina secretary of cultural resources, whose department led the fundraising effort.

"These financial contributions are crucial if we are to meet our goal of complete underwater archaeological excavation by 2014," she said. 

Wendy Welsh, field director for the project, has made more than 1,000 dives to the Queen Anne's Revenge. She equated her work to a pirate's quest for treasure.

"The entire thing is the treasure. These artifacts are going to be around for so long, the work to take care of them, that's where the treasure is," she said. 

In 1717, Blackbeard captured a French slave ship and renamed it Queen Anne's Revenge. Blackbeard settled in Bath and received a governor's pardon. Volunteers with the Royal Navy killed him in Ocracoke Inlet in November 1718, five months after the ship thought to be Queen Anne's Revenge sank.

"These kinds of things are precious to the people of North Carolina," Perdue concluded.  "We are who we are because we believe in our history, the history of our people, the history of our state."


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  • warbirdlover Oct 19, 2012

    I grew up in the Florida Keys in the '60's & '70's when hunting the wrecks of the Spanish Plate Fleet, was on full swing. My Dad owned a little Dive Shop in Key Largo. I have spent many days listing to my Dads friends, like Mel Fisher, Tom Gerr, Bill Filer, Steve Kline, the Lowe brothers make their plans for locating the Spanish Treasure. Mel Fisher finally found the Atocha, but at what cost. The death of his son, years of litigation with the State of Florida. I have artifacts from Sailing Ships in my closet. I learned how to Scuba Dive in the day's before DAN & PADI. Some of my most fond memories come from diving in John Penekamp, Molasses Reef, Hens & Chicken Reef, Christ of the Abyss.

  • westernwake1 Oct 19, 2012

    "Am I still on You two have polite, intelligent and informative comments" - eyepeefreelee

    LOL. I pulled up this thread and thought I was on another site by mistake. :)

    Really glad to hear about the progress in the Blackbeard site excavation and the private donations supporting this effort.

  • yellow_hat Oct 19, 2012

    They have no idea if this pile of boards is the QAR, let alone any real proof - but it helps with Beaufort tourism & keeps a handful of professors employed at ECU.

  • GravyPig Oct 19, 2012

    "GP - "I had to look up where Southport was."

    I love Southport. It's one of my very favorite NC towns."

    I spend alot of time up in the Beaufort, Morehead City area. I'll have to check Southport out.

  • more cowbell Oct 19, 2012


  • ifcdirector Oct 19, 2012

    Blackbeard was doing some corporate downsizing that's all.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Oct 19, 2012

    GP - "I had to look up where Southport was."

    I love Southport. It's one of my very favorite NC towns.

  • Scubagirl Oct 19, 2012

    The one in Southport used to be on the main street but they have just moved into a new place I seem to recall:

  • lrfarms27572 Oct 19, 2012

    where is the one in southport at?

  • Half Red Half Blue Oct 19, 2012

    Great job to my friend Levi for all the hard work he put into retrieving some of these artifacts. Can't wait to see!