Local News

Ancient Mystery Clearing Up On NC Coast

Posted October 29, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— A mystery more than 250 years old may be solved within a matter of weeks off the North Carolina Coast. State archeologists are slowly bringing up pieces of what they believe is the Queen Anne's Revenge, the flagship of the dreaded pirate Blackbeard.

Wednesday, researchers led the first tour of the wreck site.

Nearly everyday, small treasures are emerging from the salty waters off Fort Macon. Each one is potential proof that Blackbeard's flag ship, missing more than 250 years, has finally been discovered just one mile offshore.

Jeffrey Crow, director of the NC Division of Archeology, says artifacts found around the site will be analyzed at great length.

The crew was always prepared for battle, and many of the artifacts appear to have been stolen from other vessels. All indicators point to the early 1700's, when Blackbeard terrorized the seas.

State Archeologist Leslie Bright says the items found are indicative of the time.

Scientists say that right now, they're 95 percent sure they have found Blackbeard's ship. But, even if it isn't, they say, it is the oldest underwater find in state history. If it is Blackbeard's, it is arguably the most important discovery ever made in North Carolina waters.

State Archeologist Steve Claggett says there is a big spotlight on this project.

The multi-million dollar study should last at least three more years, as scientists search remains of the wreck.

The Graveyard of the Atlantic is aptly named. Researchers believe more than 4,000 sunken ships are in the waters off the North Carolina coast. Most of the wrecks were caused by bad weather,but some ships were sunk in battle. About 900 of the wrecks have been discovered and documented. Only a little more than 600 of those have ever been identified.