Nearly 300 years after Queen Anne’s Revenge sank, the ship’s artifacts are making their way across the state. Six-pound cannonballs, nails, a pewter plate and other items from Blackbeard’s loot are on loan from the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort. The exhibit also features multimedia displays that give descriptions of life aboard Blackbeard’s ship and explain how the artifacts were preserved.
In 1717, Blackbeard and his fellow pirates sailed from the Chesapeake Bay to the Caribbean, where he captured a French slave ship, La Concorde, which he kept and renamed Queen Anne’s Revenge. Onboard the QAR, Blackbeard and his crew sailed throughout the Caribbean and plundered ships near St. Vincent, St. Lucia and Antigua. In May, 1718, the pirates sailed to Beaufort, N.C. Shortly afterward, the ship hit a sandbar and ran aground one mile offshore present-day Atlantic Beach, N.C.
David Cartier, public relations coordinator for the N.C. Maritime Museum, said the touring exhibit of artifacts has allowed the museum and its staff to reach out to other institutions.
“The traveling exhibit was a way to reach out to other museums across the state,” he said. “I think it’s been pretty successful.”
The idea to put QAR artifacts on the road came from the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, which has been responsible for excavating and restoring the items. Cartier said the salt-encrusted artifacts can spend up to six years in a laboratory in Greenville, N.C., before they can be displayed at the maritime museum.
Museum staff members transport and assemble the exhibit at each stop on the tour, at no cost to the host museums.
Saturday, Aug. 2, the exhibit moved to Brunswick Town/ Fort Anderson State Historic Site.
“The rain has not kept people from coming out today,” said Brenda Bryant, site manager. “The parking lot is full.”
Crowds gathered as Billy Ray Morris, project leader for the QAR excavation, spoke about the 400,000 artifacts that have been retrieved from the ship.
“It’s a great way for us to combine efforts to promote our history,” Bryant said.
Children also joined in the opening day festivities as they made pirate flags and eye patches at craft stations. On sunny days, children will be able to participate in a scavenger hunt that teaches them about Blackbeard.
“Children will be engaged with these interactions,” Bryant said. The children’s activities will be available until the exhibit leaves town Sept. 13.
The Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson Historic Site is free to the public and open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays. For more information, call 910-371-6613 or visit nchistoricsites.org