FIRST ON 3 UPDATE: Cannon found on riverfront from 1700s, experts say

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Archaeological experts are weighing in on a cannon construction crews found under the street on Wilmington’s riverfront.

Crews found the cannon under the street right in front of the federal courthouse. Many of you have spent countless nights dancing or singing to a summer concert series on Wilmington’s riverfront. Now, experts are saying a 300 year old cannon has been sitting right underneath your feet.

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Dozens stopped to stare at it today.

Chris Southerly with the Underwater Archaeology Branch Office of State Archaeology said the size, style and design of the cannon would date it to the early 18th century. That is around the time the Mitchell-Anderson house was built. The Mitchell-Anderson House is the oldest house in Wilmington that is still standing.

“More than likely it could have been off of an armed vessel at the time,” Southerly said. “There are a lot of shipwrecks here in the vicinity, especially the Cape Fear River, that date from the Colonial times to modern times that are even still visible.”



Wilmington City Spokesman Dylan Lee said it is exciting, but it is not surprising.

“The find of this cannon on Water Street is in a way not completely surprising given the depth of the history particularly in this location,” Lee said.

Southerly said experts have found artifacts like this in the Cape Fear before, but not in this location.

“There have been some found down in the river near Brunswick Town,” Southerly said.

Now, this piece of history is off to the lab, so experts can figure out its identity.

“If there aren’t any maker’s marks or proof marks that would identify the time period or nationality, we’ll look more at the style of gun,” Southerly said.

Whether it has a British past, a french past, or anything else, this cannon is now a permanent part of Wilmington’s past.

The city spokesman said there has been some discussion of the cannon being on display on the riverfront once it is cleaned up and tests are done.