Author: Erik Farrell, Independent Researcher
A question to start – on a French privateer turned slave ship, commandeered by English pirates what country did the cannon come from?
Say it with me now, one, two, three, “SWEDEN!”
Of the 30 cannon from Queen Anne’s Revenge, there are a number of English guns, but around half are Swedish. None are known to have been cast in France. Although it seems a little weird, this is actually pretty typical – Sweden and England were both major producers of artillery in the 17th and early 18th centuries, widely selling arms to merchants (and governments) around Europe. One of the most interesting groupings of guns are cannon C19, C22, C26, and C27. In fact, C26 and C27 played a small cameo role in 2022, but let’s take a closer look!
All four guns are 1-pounders (firing a 1 pound, solid, cast iron ball), all four have a mark reading “IEC” on the right trunnion, and three of them have date marks! Those marks alone actually tell us a lot about the guns themselves, and the ship they were on.
IEC is a maker’s mark for the gunfounder Jesper Eliaeson Ehrencreutz. Jesper Eliaeson started the Ehrendal foundry as early as 1689 and was the master founder until his death in 1722. The mark “IE” (for Jesper Eliaeson) is believed to have been used from 1689 to 1695, when the “C” was added after Ehrencreutz was ennobled by the Swedish Crown. The Ehrendal foundry used this mark until 1722, when Jesper’s son Olof succeeds him as the master founder using the mark “OEC.”
These are also useful because they have cast-in date marks from the manufacturer. Smaller Ehrendal guns cast by Eliaeson are known to use 3-digit date marks, and both C19 and C27 are clearly marked “713” on the face of the left trunnion, indicating manufacture in 1713. C22’s date mark is damaged and illegible.
C26 is marked, but the mark is, unfortunately, a little bit wonky. An error seems to have been made in creating the mold, because the edge of the impression around the date mark is badly offset from the edge of the actual trunnion. On balance, it is likely a “714” date mark for 1714, but it might be a badly damaged, upside down 4-digit date of “1712” instead.
With four guns of the same size, from the same manufacturer, made within 2 years of each other, we can be reasonably confident these came onto the vessel as a group. But we can’t say whether they came on during one of the French voyages, or if Blackbeard added them when he refitted the ship and upped the gun count. However, even with the uncertainty, the date marks on these guns are a HUGE bonus for archaeologists. Most objects don’t have dates written on them. Often archaeologists are forced to rely on typological dating of objects, and while this is sometimes precise to within a decade or so, this often only gets you a date plus or minus 50 years. A maker’s mark with a 1713 date tells you this object was made in EXACTLY the year 1713, and that helps to date the entire wreck more securely. This type of artifact dating is one of the reasons archaeologists were able to identify Queen Anne’s Revenge in the first place!
Henry, Nathan and Erik Farrell. 2021. “A Preliminary Analysis of Armaments from Shipwreck 31CR314: Queen Anne’s Revenge,” The Ordnance Society Journal 28(7-21).
-Swedish 1-pounder cannon, C27. Image by NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.
-IEC mark on cannon C27. Image by NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.
-713 (1713) date mark on cannon C27. Image by NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.
-Date mark on cannon C26. Image by NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.