Blackbeard’s Treasure. Fact or Myth? by Sky Purington

Nothing sparks the imagination quite like hidden pirate treasure. Especially the infamous loot of Edward “Blackbeard” Teach, a reportedly cruel and vicious opportunist who plundered the high seas from 1716 to 1718. Intent to pillage gold and silver laden Spanish ships traveling from South America and Mexico, the bulk of his pirating took place around the West Indies and the Atlantic coast of North America, with headquarters in both the Bahamas and North Carolina. Yet what happened to his amassed treasure after he was beheaded by British Lieutenant Robert Maynard in 1718? Because it was never found.


But treasure of another sort was…


For archaeologists, Blackbeard’s real ‘treasure’ was found in 1996, when the remains of a vessel believed to have been Blackbeard’s flagship, Queen Anne’s Revenge, was discovered in the North Carolina Shallows. A number of artifacts have since been retrieved from the wreckage, including a roughly cast Spanish bronze bell, a pewter charger, and an English blunderbuss barrel. Other notable items included a brass coin weight bearing the bust of Queen Anne of England, the stem of a wine glass decorated with diamonds and tiny embossed crowns, made to commemorate the 1714 coronation of Queen Anne’s successor, King George I; the remains of a French hunting sword featuring a bust that closely resembles King Louis XV and even a French urethral syringe for the treatment of syphilis.


Yet some continue to believe the artifacts found in the depths of Davy Jones’ Locker were not the last of Blackbeard’s spoils. After all, his ledger notes that his real treasure, “lay in a location known only to him and the devil.”

Explorers continue to excavate the remains of Queen Anne’s Revenge, so perhaps his ill-gotten gains still rest on the ocean floor of North Carolina’s Beaufort Inlet. Or it could be, as many surmise, that Blackbeard knew his days were numbered. The Spanish and English were closing in on him, so he hid the bulk of his loot elsewhere. Perhaps in the Caribbean Islands or the caves of the Cayman Islands? Or, as I ponder on occasion, perhaps down the street from me near the windswept dunes and cypress trees of Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay where he used to keep a lookout for incoming merchant ships.


Maybe someday Blackbeard’s infamous treasure will be found, maybe not. Either way, it’s wonderful fodder for the adventuresome imagination and at the heart of many a tall tale. Speaking of tales and hidden treasure, be sure to join my pirates in The Seafaring Rogue (Pirates of Britannia) where loot is plundered, treasure is always discovered, and love on the high seas flourishes.


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