Blackbeard, feared and loathed during his short piratical career, is celebrated in these more modern times. Nowhere is that more evident than at the North Carolina Maritime Museum on the Beaufort waterfront, which marks the 300th anniversary of the grounding the Queen Anne’s Revenge this weekend with an expanded exhibit including never-seen-before artifacts from the shipwreck, a new highway marker and a day-long symposium on the pirate’s life.
The events mark the kickoff of Pirate Week at the museum, celebrated with themed take-home crafts and viewings of the film “Blackbeard’s Lost Ship.”
On Thursday, the state unveiled a new highway marker noting Blackbeard's connection to North Carolina. The marker was placed on the drive leading into Fort Macon at Atlantic Beach.
The expanded exhibit opens on Friday, and Saturday is Maritime Day, when visitors get to sail in the museum’s fleet of traditional wooden boats and cast a line with a cane pole. Maritime Day events, which are free and open to the public, are based at the museum's extension on Gallants Channel, 172 W. Beaufort Road.
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The Maritime Museum has been home since 2011 to the “Who Was Blackbeard” exhibit, the largest display of artifacts from the Queen Anne’s Revenge. On Friday, the museum will open an 800-square-foot expansion to the attraction.
The Queen Anne’s Revenge, Blackbeard’s flagship, ran aground in 1718 and was found in 1996 in about 20 feet of water off the N.C. coast. Salvagers have removed and documented hundreds of artifacts from the ship, more than 300 of which are on display at the state-run museum.
After it ran aground, the crew had time to remove most of the valuables the ship held, but what remained is rich in the history of weaponry, wooden ship construction and 18th-century maritime life.
The exhibit expansion will tell more about what’s known of the world and times in which Blackbeard lived. It includes a timeline, for instance, of important scientific discoveries made while Blackbeard was alive.
David Cartier, spokesman for the museum, said part of what's new will be a re-creation of the "great cabin" from Queen Anne's Revenge, where a combination of artifacts, replicas, props and technology will be used to show as accurately as possible Blackbeard's room aboard the ship. An image of the infamous pirate will be projected into the exhibit to make it appear he's in the room.
The museum also is adding information about another of Blackbeard's ships that ran aground at the same time as the Queen Anne's Revenge. Remains of that ill-fated vessel, the Adventure, have yet to be found. In this part of the exhibit, Cartier said, the museum is adding a fly-through virtual tour of the interior and exterior of the Queen Anne's Revenge.
Significant new artifacts from the ship include:
▪ the first deadeye to be conserved from the wreckage. These were used to tension the shrouds supporting the masts;
▪ a cast iron cautery iron, used by early doctors to close wounds. This one may have come from the town of Charleston, which Blackbeard held for ransom in March 1718;
▪ a pair of hammer heads, used by shipwrights to build items and make repairs;
▪ links from an iron chain used in land surveying;
▪ and a brass filigree balance cock and gear from a man's pocket watch, dating to between 1660 and 1675.
At 11 a.m. Saturday, the museum will hold the Parade of Cannons, an homage to Blackbeard, with a fleet of boats making its way from the Maritime Museum at the modern-day entrance to Beaufort Harbor to the end of Fulford Street, the site of the “white house” that marked the harbor’s entrance on maps during Blackbeard’s day. The symposium, “New perspectives on Blackbeard the Pirate,” will feature five lectures: "Who Was Blackbeard and Why do We Care?" from noon until 1:50 p.m.; "The Archaeology of Piracy" from 2 p.m. to 2 :50 p.m.; "The Sound and the Fury — Armament of the Queen Anne's Revenge" from 3 p.m. to 3:50 p.m.; "Blackbeard and Stede Bonnet in Charles town" from 4 p.m. to 4:50 p.m.; and "Recovering Blackbeard's Queen Anne's Revenge" from 5p.m. to 5:50 p.m..
The North Carolina Maritime Museum, 315 Front Street, Beaufort is open Monday thru Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The museum is open to the public with free admission.
Donations are accepted.