Looking like something straight off Davy Jones’s ship in the Pirates of the Caribbean, five cannons saw air for the very first time in almost 300 years yesterday as they were lifted from what’s believed to be legendary pirate Blackbeard’s sunken ship.
The capsized vessel in question, Queen Anne’s Revenge, is recorded to have gone down as early as July 12, 1718, but it wasn’t until 1996 that archaeologists were actually able to locate it along the ocean floor. And though we’ve been bringing up tens of thousands of rotten, mouldy and totally awesome pirate artefacts from the wreck for years, today’s haul is the largest cannon cache yet.
Prior to yesterday’s haul, project director Billy Ray Morris released the following statement about the coming expedition:
We think the largest of the four cannons may be of Swedish origin since the only other recovered gun this size was made in Sweden. We also hope to recover two large concretions each the size of a twin bed. They may contain barrel hoops, cannon balls and other treasures.
And just how big might that single Swedish one be? No less than a whopping 1360kg of cast-iron capable of sending 3kg cannonballs soaring around 3km. The remaining four cannons weighed in at a (relatively) measly 900kg each. And this is only a quarter of the total haul, which now adds up to 20 recovered cannons in all.
As PopSci notes, this impressive mess of firepower is what allowed Blackbeard to blockade the port at Charleston, South Carolina, for nearly a week before his baby sank for good in 1718. Just six months later, now without his precious Queen Anne’s Revenge, a tag-team attack by the colonies of North Carolina and Virginia was finally able to do Blackbeard in for good. Three-hundred years later, though, his legacy still lives on, and you can even check out this awesome interactive map of the shipwreck created by a North Carolina museum dedicated to the legend itself. [PopSci]