Author: Nick Baker, ECU Maritime Studies Graduate Assistant
My name is Nicholas Baker, and I am a graduate assistant at the Queen Anne’s Revenge Conservation Lab. I am currently in pursuit of a master’s degree in maritime studies at East Carolina University. My passion for history was spurred on from my father and uncles who were keen on history. This drew me towards a history degree with secondary teaching license in undergrad at UNC Wilmington. However, while my short stint as a teacher provided me with good memories and experiences, it was not the connection I was looking for to the past. It was at this moment that I knew fully committing to a career in archaeology was what I was looking for as it made my passion for history tangible rather than being in a classroom only ever reading about it. This realization was combined with the desire to put myself in a position where I could provide both children and adults with unique memories they will never forget. To see the fascination of others when they glance at the relics of the past that survive to this day is an unforgettable feeling and is one that I hope to share with others.
Since then, I have learned many documentation and conservation techniques for metal and organic artifacts at the QAR lab while also helping with new projects in the field. I had the opportunity to join ECU on my first archaeological project in Mallows Bay, Maryland to document the construction and degradation of two World War I supply ships in the Mallows Bay Ship’s Graveyard. During the summer of 2022, I volunteered at the Underwater Archaeology Branch at Fort Fisher and was on board during a side scan sonar survey when staff discovered a possible Revolutionary War era cannon near Southport. I also assisted in the identification of a recently uncovered shipwreck. Further research found the wreck site to match the dimensions as well as the final resting place of Roland, a 37-ft. fishing vessel which carried 17 Estonian refugees thousands of miles across the Atlantic to Southport to escape Russian persecution in 1948. This research led to the discovery of another ship used for the same purpose about a month after Roland known as Prolific which I look forward to researching in the future. This last fall I joined ECU in the field again to assist with the exploration and identification of a shipwreck in Antigua believed to be a large 40-gun French ship of the line known as Lyon. Lyon was used as a blockade runner for the Continental Congress during the American Revolution before being captured in Virginia in 1777 by HMS Maidstone and sent to English Harbor, Antigua.
It is my hope that I may use the skills and experiences I have learned to benefit me in my future projects including my thesis which involves a material culture study on the navigational artifacts associated with La Concorde/Queen Anne’s Revenge. I look forward to continuing to learn more and more from the professionals that I am surrounded by to better prepare for my own future career.
-Nick at Mallows Bay. Image courtesy of Nick Baker.
-Nick assisting conservator Terry with solution testing. Image by NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.