Even after the 1997 discovery of
Blackbeard's shipwreck, the mystery surrounding one of
history's most notorious pirates still swirls.
As every North Carolina schoolchild knows, the islands and
inlets around Beaufort and Morehead City are pirate country.
Specifically, this area was once a hideout for the notorious
Blackbeard, aka Edward Teach, whose ships terrorized the waters of
the Atlantic and the Caribbean in the early 18th century.
It's been nearly 300 years, but locals have not forgotten their
hometown rogue. The region boasts a Blackbeard's Point,
Blackbeard's House (now called the Hammock House), Blackbeard's
Lodge, and a restaurant named after his ship Queen Anne's Revenge.
The area of water where he was killed in a battle is known as
"Teach's Hole." Gift shops sell kitschy Blackbeard playing cards,
mugs, and magnets. Actors perform Blackbeard at parties. His face
is painted on Beaufort's water tower, and his ghost is said to
haunt the area. Curiosity-seekers have poked around old shipwrecks
for decades, hoping to stumble upon his hidden treasures.
Everyone was content with such folklore until 1997, when a group of
archaeologists and divers announced they believed they had
discovered the wreck of Queen Anne's Revenge sitting calmly under
22 feet of water a short distance from Fort Macon. Divers had
stumbled upon the site during a hunt for another vessel and soon
realized that the 30-foot mound of cannons, anchors, and wooden
debris might be of importance. Artifacts brought up from the wreck
- two cannonballs, a brass barrel from a blunderbuss, a cannon
touchhole apron, and a brass ship's bell dated 1705 - matched
descriptions of what pirates carried onboard, as well as historical
documents of shipwrecks in the area. Blackbeard was found at last -
and the North Carolina coast was quickly besieged by media from
around the world.