On November 21, 1996, a search team from the private research firm Intersal, Inc., operating under a permit from the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources found a cluster of cannon and anchors on the seabed near historic Beaufort Inlet.
Several diagnostic artifacts were recovered from the site, designated North Carolina shipwreck site 31CR314, including a bronze bell dated 1705, a sounding weight, an English blunderbuss barrel, a lead cannon apron, and two cannonballs.
These early 18th-century artifacts, nine cannon, and two large anchors led the discoverers to believe that this was the wreckage of the pirate Blackbeard’s flagship, Queen Anne’s Revenge (QAR).
The site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.
Archaeological Exploration Begins
The first dive led by the Underwater Archaeology Branch (UAB) in the fall of 1997 allowed the archaeologists to examine completely the shipwreck site and debris field, and determine the size and orientation of the site. Two cannons, four cannonballs, a pewter platter, pottery fragments and other artifacts were recovered. The location of the site as compared with historical documents detailing the loss of the ship, the size of the wreck scatter, and the nature of the assemblage helped confirm the site's identity as undoubtedly that of Blackbeard's lost ship.
As of 2015, 24 cannons had been raised from the wreck site. A small anchor, called a grapnel, was recovered in 2009 and a nearly 12-foot long anchor was recovered in 2011. In all, over 400,000 artifacts have been raised from the site, including cannon shot, parts of the ship's hull, tools, and glass trade beads.
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