MOREHEAD CITY, NC (WWAY) -- A piece of history has been raised from the pits of the ocean, and it’s the largest artifact that's ever been recovered from perhaps the most infamous pirate's flagship.
The 3,000-pound artifact is one of four anchors off of Blackbeard's prized Queen Anne's Revenge. This anchor helped hold down that flagship as Blackbeard terrorized the waters and coasts of North Carolina. Now, nearly 300 years after that shipwreck, this historical treasure is being brought to land for everyone to see.
"We knew it was 13 feet long, but seeing is believing,” said CFCC Research Vessel Dan Moore Captain Steve Beuth. “To see it break the surface was just a thrill for everyone, especially our students."
"I was very excited,” CFCC Marine Technology student Barry Brunjes said. “You're living history really."
"For him to be so close to Wilmington and North Carolina, it's just pretty neat that we have that here and are able to go out and actually participate in the recovery of the artifacts off the shipwreck,” CFCC Marine Technology student Bryan Pearson said.
Wilmington has a special connection to this historic event. Cape Fear Community College's Research Vessel, the Dan Moore, is the ship that hoisted the treasure out of the depths of the sea.
"I can remember 12 years ago, diving on it and seeing all the cannons and the anchors and the fish all over it,” said Assistant State Underwater Archaeologist Nathan Henry. “And it's kind of a bittersweet day. It's like an old friend that's come ashore, and now we're going to treat her and put her on display for the public."
"The most nerve-wracking thing certainly was when it was under the heavy strain,” Captain Beuth said. “The ship listed over about 10 degrees. It was swinging back and forth in those three-foot seas. It was a little tense, but everything worked out well."
Captain Beuth said there's no real evidence that Blackbeard ever tortured or killed anyone, but Henry says that's what this excavation is going to uncover.
"Pirates are just seamen that went awry,” Henry said. “It'll help us get a better idea of their material culture, what type of things they carried in their pockets, the kind of things they utilized every day. That's the really cool stuff to me, bringing out the stories of the people."
The anchor is at the Queen Anne's Revenge Conservation Lab at East Carolina University, where restoration could take four years. Captain Beuth thinks the final resting place should be in front of Cape Fear Community College.