Finding Blackbeard’s Sunken Ship Reveals New Insights About Pirates

By: Emma Roberts | Last updated: Nov 16, 2023

Unearth the secrets of the world’s most notorious pirate, Blackbeard! It took 20 years of studying artifacts and multiple dives to uncover Queen Anne’s Revenge, the flagship of Blackbeard that crashed along the North Carolina shoreline in 1718. 

Today, researchers have found 30 cannons, medicinal items, and more, helping us understand Blackbeard’s life like never before. Discover these amazing artifacts and learn the story of the wreck’s discovery.

The Ship of the Legendary Pirate: Blackbeard's Queen Anne's Revenge

For centuries, the ship of the notorious pirate, Blackbeard, lay hidden in the depths of the North Carolina coast. Three hundred years after his death, Queen Anne’s Revenge was finally discovered. 


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In 1996, archaeologists started the long process of excavating the vessel, uncovering a wealth of artifacts that helped piece together the story of one of the most infamous figures of the “Golden Age of Piracy,” between 1650 and 1720. Despite his short reign of terror, Blackbeard left an indelible mark on history.

Uncovering the Mystery of Queen Anne's Revenge: The Search for Blackbeard's Lost Ship 

Historian David Moore dug up two eye-witness accounts that could give insight into the whereabouts of Queen Anne’s Revenge. Captain David Herriot of Adventure claimed that Blackbeard deliberately ran Queen Anne’s Revenge aground to disperse his 300-person crew and steal more of the treasure. 


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Additionally, Captain Ellis Brand of the HMS Lyme wrote in a letter that the ship ran aground in Old Topsail Inlet, now Beaufort Inlet in North Carolina. Could these accounts be the key to uncovering the mystery of Queen Anne’s Revenge?

Uncovering a 300-year-old Shipwreck: The Discovery of Queen Anne's Revenge 

In November 1996, a team of researchers from Intersal, Inc. made an incredible discovery while exploring the coast of Beaufort Inlet, North Carolina. With a permit from the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, the team ventured to the ocean’s depths, uncovering a cannon, a 1705 bronze bell, a blunderbuss barrel, and a sounding weight. 


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After analyzing the artifacts, archaeologists suspected the ship belonged to the notorious Blackbeard and was called the Queen Anne’s Revenge. This was finally confirmed in 2011, and the National Register of Historic Places recognized the dive site in 2004.

Uncovering the Mystery of Blackbeard's Sunken Ship 

For centuries, the mystery behind the whereabouts of Blackbeard’s infamous ship, Queen Anne’s Revenge, remained shrouded in mystery. In 1717, Blackbeard and his crew captured and renamed the French slave ship La Concorde to Queen Anne’s Revenge


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However, a year later, the ship ran aground on the coast of North Carolina and sank into the depths of the sea. Despite the lack of records for years, historians eventually discovered the ship’s remains in 1996, ending the centuries-old mystery.

Uncovering Secrets of History: The Blackbeard Shipwreck 

In 1997, the Underwater Archaeology Branch’s dive team began their mission to uncover the secrets of Blackbeard’s shipwreck. After digging up the debris, the team found two cannons, four cannonballs, pottery fragments, and a pewter platter. 

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In 2009, another exciting discovery was made – a small anchor called a grapnel. Through their dedication and hard work, the team uncovered 24 cannons by 2015. But the most insightful artifacts were yet to be discovered, waiting to reveal even more of Blackbeard’s legendary story.


Unraveling the Mystery of 'Queen Anne's Revenge': 30 Cannons and Counting 

The mysterious wreck site of Queen Anne’s Revenge is finally revealing its secrets! Before this discovery, historians were left to rely on conflicting accounts to estimate the number of guns on Blackbeard’s notorious ship. 

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Accounts from Governors Hamilton of Jamaica, Bennett of Bermuda, and Johnson of South Carolina all gave different numbers – 26, 36, and 40 odd, respectively. Now, however, archaeologists have uncovered 30 cannons from the wreckage, and the possibility of more in the future remains. Join us on the journey to uncover the secrets of Queen Anne’s Revenge!


Uncovering Blackbeard's Ancient Remedies: Archaeologists Astonished by Cast Brass Mortar and Pestle 

Archaeologists were amazed to recently uncover a cast brass mortar and pestle on Blackbeard’s ship. This ancient device was used to grind herbs and other food to make medicine. Back then, elixirs and rubs were commonly used to treat the sick. 

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For instance, chocolate was rubbed on an open wound to reduce bleeding, while saffron was ground to make golden milk, consumed to reduce fever symptoms. It’s remarkable to think that this simple tool could have helped save the lives of Blackbeard’s crew.


Surgeons Aboard Blackbeard's Captured Ship: French Connection Revealed!

When notorious pirate Blackbeard captured the French vessel Queen Anne’s Revenge, he released most of the crew, except for a few, including the ship’s three surgeons. 

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It turns out, these surgeons had been paid to be aboard the ship before it was taken over by Blackbeard, and their French origin was revealed by markings on some of the medical instruments found on board. They were likely taken against their will on the voyage until Blackbeard’s capture of the ship.


Blackbeard's Demand for Medicine 

Feared pirate Blackbeard was known for his daring exploits, and one of his most audacious actions was his blockade of Charleston, South Carolina in 1718. Before crashing his vessel, he demanded a chest full of medicinal ingredients from the Charleston governor, threatening to kill his prisoners if the demand was not met. 

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Thankfully, the governor complied, and Blackbeard released the prisoners as promised. With his supply of medicinal ingredients, Blackbeard was well-equipped to continue his reign of terror on the seas.


The Mysterious Life of the Notorious Pirate Blackbeard 

The mysterious pirate Blackbeard had a notorious reputation, but his real name may have been Edward Teach or Edward Thatch. He terrorized the Caribbean and American colonies by crossing merchant ships but rarely caused casualties. 

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Instead, he would capture the crew, plunder their cargo, and leave without another word. Blackbeard’s swift raids meant he could gain his plunder quickly and without the hassle of a fight. A life of swift raids and mysterious origins, this is the infamous story of the notorious Blackbeard.


Uncovering Blackbeard's Bloodletting Tool: The Porringer 

Archaeologists have uncovered an instrument called a porringer from the possessions of the infamous pirate Blackbeard. Although William Harvey disproved the traditional use of bloodletting in 1628, many doctors still believed it could heal a range of illnesses, such as cholera, herpes, indigestion, scurvy, smallpox, and tuberculosis. 

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It was even used to prepare patients for amputations and was accessible to all, even pirates with limited supplies. It is believed that surgeons on Queen Anne’s Revenge likely used the porringer to aid with this practice.


Blackbeard's Lucky Encounter with 'La Concorde' 

The legendary pirate Blackbeard was in for a pleasant surprise when he encountered La Concorde, later to be rechristened Queen Anne’s Revenge. The French slave ship was weakened by a scurvy outbreak and dysentery, leaving the crew with 16 dead and 36 ill sailors. 

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After Blackbeard fired two volleys, the captain was forced to surrender. Fortunately, the pirates found four surgeons and a cook who were healthy and not affected by the disease. This was a stroke of luck for Blackbeard as he needed to ensure his crew had good health to continue their journey.


Blackbeard's Final Stand: A Battle of Fury 

Blackbeard, the infamous pirate, had a final battle six months after his ship, Queen Anne’s Revenge, sank. Virginia Governor Alexander Spotswood sent the Royal Navy to accost Blackbeard and his crew on Maynard’s sloop. 

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Accounts of the fight show that Blackbeard put up a fierce fight, sustaining 25 wounds – five being gunshot wounds. Captain Charles Johnson noted, “He stood his ground and fought with great fury.” It was a battle of courage, strength, and tenacity forever etched in history.


North Carolina Fights for Ownership of Blackbeard's Ship 

North Carolina has gone all out to claim ownership of the Queen Anne’s Revenge, the infamous vessel of the notorious pirate Blackbeard. In 2015, the state legislature passed a law declaring the ship’s wreckage as the state’s property, giving museums the right to display videos and photos of its initial discovery. 

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Intersal Inc., the first diving team to survey the wreckage, agreed to copyright photos and videos of the wreck while the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources excavated the artifacts. Now, the Tar Heel State can proudly display the treasures of Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge.