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Blackbeard's Skull

Blackbeards Skull

Much has been written about Edward Teach, aka "Blackbeard," and Ocracoke, especially his bloody battle at "Teach's Hole" near Ocracoke Inlet on November 22, 1718. "The Great Golden Age of Piracy" came to an end when Virginia's Governor Spotswood sent Lt. Robert Maynard in pursuit of Blackbeard.

 

Blackbeard's head was severed from his body in that famous battle. Afterwards Maynard unceremoniously threw the headless corpse overboard where it reportedly swam around the ship seven times before sinking into the depths of Davey Jones' Locker.

 

STORY BY GREG KELLER ARTWORK RICARDO PUSTANIO ©2009

In November 1996, a private research company discovered what it believes to be the Queen Anne's Revenge in about 20 feet of water off Beaufort Inlet, in Carteret County (map), North Carolina. A bronze bell dated 1709, a 24-pound cannonball, a blunderbuss barrel, along with other items were recovered in March 1997. It has not been confirmed but many believe it's his lost ship.


An area 300 yards around the site has been declared off limits to boats and divers to protect the its archaeological integrity. All artifacts will be kept by the state of North Carolina. The research company hopes to recoup its $300,000.00 investment through book and film rights.

Blackbeard's supposed pirate ship artifacts


A cannon found off Atlantic Beach., N.C., may be from pirate Blackbeard's ship. It was found in May 2006.

And most recently AP News states: RALEIGH, N.C. (March 3 2007) - A shipwreck off the North Carolina coast believed to be that of notorious pirate Blackbeard could be fully excavated in three years, officials working on the project said. A pewter syringe was recovered off the North Carolina coast in 1999. Testing of artifacts recovered from the site supports the theory that it is Blackbeard's ship.

 


Researchers believe the Queen Ann's Revenge, founded by Blackbeard, was formally a French slave ship. This model is on display in Beaufort, N.C.

Blackbeard External links

Photos of BBC docudrama about Blackbeard
North Carolina Office of Archives and History: Special Section on BlackBeard
Queen Anne's Revenge Archaeological Site
BBC Video about the potential finding of BlackBeards's ship
National Geographic Magazine Article on Blackbeard

 

The discovery of Blackbeard's supposed ship and it's excavation has made headlines. But what has become of his silver plated skull... Does it still exisit?

Blackbeard"s Pirate Tale

Blackbeard (November 23, 1675 [1] – November 22, 1718) was the nickname of Edward Teach, alias Edward Thatch (one source gives his name as Edward Drummond), a notorious English pirate who had a short reign of terror in the Caribbean Sea between 1716 and 1718, during a period of time referred to as the Golden Age of Piracy. His best known vessel was the Queen Anne's Revenge, which is believed by some to have run aground near Beaufort Inlet, North Carolina in 1718.

Some accounts claim that he had as many as fourteen wives, most of them common-law, but documentation is lacking. His last wife was Mary Ormond (or Ormand) of Bath, North Carolina, to whom he was married for only a short while. A painting of him hangs in Van Der Veer House (ce. 1790), in Bath.

Blackbeard often fought with, or simply showed himself wearing, a big feathered tricorn, and having multiple swords, knives, and pistols at his disposal. It was said that he had hemp and lighted matches woven into his enormous black beard during battle. Accounts of people who saw him fighting say that they thought he "looked like the devil" with his fearsome face and the smoke cloud around his head. This image, which he cultivated, has made him the premier image of the seafaring pirate.

THE MAN BLACKBEARD AND HIS DEATH

Blackbeard was the most notorious pirate in the history of seafaring. With a beard that almost covered his face, he would strike terror into the hearts of his victims, according to some early accounts, by weaving wicks laced with gunpowder into his hair, and lighting them during battle. A big man, he added to his menacing appearance by wearing a crimson coat, two swords at his waist, and bandoleers stuffed with numerous pistols and knives across his chest.

The sight of Blackbeard was enough to make most of his victims surrender without a fight. If they gave up peacefully, he would usually take their valuables, navigational instruments, weapons, and rum before allowing them to sail away. If they resisted, he would often maroon the crews and burn their ship. Blackbeard worked hard at establishing his devilish image, but there is no archival evidence to indicate that he ever killed anyone who was not trying to kill him.

The British-built ship Concorde, was destined to become Blackbeard's Queen Anne's Revenge when she was captured somewhere off the Bahamas in 1717.

She was in the style of a Dutch flute, which had been a popular design for European merchant ships in the early 1700's. Not content with the 26 cannons she was already carrying, Blackbeard increased the number to 40

Concord - 1717 Blackbeard, Peterborough - 1719 Edward England, Cadogan Snow - 1719 Howel Davis, Morning Star - 1721 Thomas Anstis

Blackbeard's ship Concord - 1717 was French

Blackbeard operated in littoral waters; it was difficult for ships of the line to engage him in battle. As such, two smaller hired sloops were therefore put under the command of Lieutenant Robert Maynard, with instructions from Spotswood to hunt down and destroy Blackbeard, offering a reward of £100, and smaller sums for the lesser crew members. Maynard sailed from James River on November 12, 1718, in command of thirty men from HMS Pearl, and twenty-five men and a midshipman of the HMS Lyme, and in command of the hired sloops, the Ranger and Jane (temporarily commissioned as His Majesty's Ships to avoid accusations of piracy themselves). Maynard found the pirates anchored in a North Carolina inlet on the inner side of Ocracoke Island, on the evening of November 21. Maynard and his men decided to wait until the following morning because the tide would be more favourable. Blackbeard's Adventure had a crew of only nineteen, "Thirteen white and six Negroes", as reported to the Admiralty.

A small boat was sent ahead at daybreak, was fired upon, and quickly retreated. Blackbeard's superior knowledge of the inlet was of much help, although he and his crew had been drinking in his cabin the night prior. Throughout the night Blackbeard waited for Maynard to make his move. Blackbeard cut his anchor cable and quickly attempted to move towards a narrow channel. Maynard made chase; however his sloops ran aground, and there was a shouted exchange between captains.

Maynard's account says, "At our first salutation, he drank Damnation to me and my Men, whom he stil'd Cowardly Puppies, saying, He would neither give nor take Quarter", although many different versions of the dialogue exist. Eventually, Maynard's sloops were able to float freely again, and he began to row towards Blackbeard, since the wind was not strong enough at the time for setting sail. When they came upon Blackbeard's Adventure, they were hit with a devastating broadside attack. Midshipman Hyde, captain of the smaller HMS Jane, was killed along with six other men. Ten men were also wounded in the surprise attack. The sloop fell astern and was little help in the following action. Maynard continued his pursuit in HMS Ranger, managing to blast the Adventure's rigging, forcing it ashore. Maynard ordered many of his crew into the holds and readied to be boarded. As his ship approached, Blackbeard saw the mostly empty decks, assumed it was safe to board, and did so with ten men.

“ Maynard and Teach themselves begun the fight with their swords, Maynard making a thrust, the point of his sword against Teach's cartridge box, and bent it to the hilt. Teach broke the guard of it, and wounded Maynard's fingers but did not disable him, whereupon he jumped back and threw away his sword and fired his pistol which wounded Teach. Demelt struck in between them with his sword and cut Teach's face pretty much; in the interim both companies engaged in Maynard's sloop, one of Maynard's men being a Highlander, engaged Teach with his broad sword, who gave Teach a cut on the neck. Later during the battle, while Teach was loading his pistol he finally died from blood loss. Maynard then cut off his head and hung it from his bow. ”


Blackbeard's severed head hanging from Maynard's bowsprit Maynard's men emerged, and the battle began. The most complete account of the following events comes from the Boston News Letter:

Despite the best efforts of the pirates (including a desperate plan to blow up the Adventure), Teach was killed, and the battle ended. Teach was reportedly shot five times and stabbed more than twenty times before he died and was decapitated. Legends about his death immediately sprang up, including the oft-repeated claim that Teach's headless body, after being thrown overboard, swam between 2 and 7 times around the Adventure before sinking. Teach's head was placed as a trophy on the bowsprit of the ship (it was also required by Maynard to claim his prize when he returned home). After the sheer terror of the battle with the pirates, and the wounds that the crew received, Maynard still only acquired his meager prize of £100 from Spotswood. Later, Teach's head hung from a pike in Bath.

If you think you are a descendant of Edward Teach, or Thatch (or was it Teach or Drummond), why not submit to a D.N.A. test, and solve a 280 year old mystery!!

Maynard carried Blackbeard's head back to Williamsburg, Virginia as a grim message to Teach's nefarious "Brethren of the Coast." R.E. Lee's book, Blackbeard the Pirate, A Reappraisal of His Life and Times,"according to the legends of Virginia and the statements of a number of writers, Blackbeard's skull dangled from a high pole on the west side of the mouth of the Hampton River for many years as a warning to seafarers. The place is still today called "Blackbeard's Point."

 

The Lost Skull of Blackbeard

Donald W. Patterson on the web site, Blackbeard Lives tells the tale that Maynard's sailors hung Blackbeard's head on the bowsprit of their sloop and headed for Bath, where Blackbeard lived. January of 1719, they sailed to Williamsburg, Va., still displaying their gruesome head of Blackbeard. By early February, they arrived in the Norfolk, Va. area. Around the middle of the month, authorities in Hampton, Va. hanged several of Blackbeard's men. They stuck his head on a pole as a warning to potential pirates."

According to Lee, "In time, someone took down the grim souvenir and fashioned it into the base of a large punch bowl." He goes on to say that for many years the bowl was kept in the Raleigh Tavern in Williamsburg where it was used as a drinking vessel. Simular to The skull cup, or kapala (Sanskrit), a cup made of the oval upper section of a human cranium. Skull cups are used primarily in Tibetan rituals and symbolic art.

Blackbeard's skull hung for many years from a pole at the confluence of the Hampton and James rivers. The site is still known as Blackbeard's Point.

Reputable sources declare that the relic was later taken down and fashioned into a silver-mounted drinking cup. Antiquarian and publisher John F. Watson states that the "skull was made into the bottom part of a very large punch bowl, called the infant, which was long used as a drinking vessel at the Raleigh Tavern in Williamsburg. It was enlarged with silver, or silver plated; and I have seen those whose forefathers have spoken of their drinking punch from it, with a silver ladle appurtenant to that bowl." Historian and author John Esten Cooke, in his Virginia, states that the cup was still preserved in the state in 1903. The usage of skulls as drinking cups is an ancient practice. The Roman historian Livy makes reference to northern Italians cleaning and gilding crania for use as drinking goblets; Plutarch and Herodotus record similar rituals practiced by the Teutons, Scythians, and Tibetans.

As recently as 1989, Charles H. Whedbee, a lawyer and state legislator in North Carolina, wrote a volume of reminiscences describing an event of the early 1930s when he visited a law school friend from the University of North Carolina at his home on the coast. Touring Ocracoke, they stopped at Blackbeard's Castle near Silver Lake. It was an odd but convivial evening, spent among rough seamen speaking with the Elizabethan inflection familiar to the area. They drank from what was purported to be Blackbeard's silver-plated skull. Incised around the outer circumference were the words: "Deth to Spotswoode."

The Raleigh Tavern was established in 1717,Painted in gilt above the mantel of the Raleigh Tavern's Apollo Room is the motto "Hilaritas Sapientiae et Bonae Vitae Proles." It may be translated "Jollity, the offspring of wisdom and good living."

Raleigh's namesake was Sir Walter Raleigh, who had attempted the first colonization of Virginia in 1585. His lead bust stood above the door and, during Publick Times in April and October, planters and merchants from all over the colony passed beneath it on the way to the court. Some adjourned to play dice in the gaming room or to feast in the dining room.

The Restored Raleigh was dedicated in 1932, Colonial Williamsburg's first exhibition building, the reconstructed Raleigh was dedicated September 16, 1932, a year to the day after the restored Wren Building opened. A local minister delivered the benediction: "God bless the father, the son, and the Williamsburg Holding Corporation."

"In the commonwealth of Pirates," concluded novelist Daniel Defoe writing under the nom de plume of Captain Charles Johnson in 1724, "who goes the greatest length for wickedness is looked upon with a kind of envy amongst them, as a person of a more extraordinary gallantry, and is thereby entitled to be distinguished by some post. And if such a one has but courage, he must certainly be a great man." Blackbeard has been described as "the embodiment of impregnable wickedness, of reckless daring, a nightmarish villain so lacking in any human kindness that no crime was above him. . . the living picture of an ogre who roamed the seas and withered all before him with his very presence." He was, an 18th-century writer said, like "a frightful meteor" that "frightened America more than any comet that has appeared there in a long time."

Skull Cups

Less often, non-wrathful Buddhist deities are depicted with a skull cup, which holds less violent contents. Padmasambhava, for example, holds a skull cup described as an ocean of nectar, in which floats a longevity vase.


Tiebetan Kapala

Ritual skull cups are traditionally formed from a human skull that has been cut into shape, lined with a metal rim and ornamented. Many skull cups are simply made out of a precious metal in the form of a cranium. They are usually elaborately decorated with artistic designs and Buddhist symbols like lotuses and vajras. Many are fitted with ornamented lids and have feet or a separate base in the form of human skulls.

As the libation vessel of a Vajrayana Buddhist, the skull cup can be seen as a parallel of the clay pot (kumbha in Sanskrit) of the Vedic sacrifice, the alms bowl of the Buddha, and the sacred water vase (kalasha in Sanskrit) of the bodhisattvas. In addition, as a receptacle for sacrificial offerings presented to wrathful deities, the skull cup parallels the tray of auspicious substances like jewels, flowers, or fruit presented to peaceful deities. In its most benign symbolism, as the begging bowl or food vessel of an ascetic, the skull cup serves as a constant reminder of death and impermanence.

When used for esoteric rituals, the history of the cranium's original owner has an important bearing on its ritual potency. The skull of a murder or execution victim is believed to possess the greatest tantric power; the skull of one who has died from a violent or accidental death, or from a virulent illness, possesses a medium magical power; the skull of a person who died peacefully in old age has virtually no occult power. Having great potency are the skulls of children who died during the onset of puberty or were born from the forbidden union of castes, out of wedlock, from sexual misdemeanor, or particularly from incest. The vital force or potential of the skull's previous owner is embodied within the bone as a spirit, rendering it as an effective power object for the performance of rituals.

In the ritual, lamas and other advanced practitioners drink consecrated alcoholic beverages or sometimes even blood from the skull cup, symbolizing the wrathful deity drinking the blood of his or her victim.

 

 

At the height of his power, in May 1718, Blackbeard blockaded Charleston, South Carolina for a week. Shortly afterwards the Queen Anne's Revenge ran aground and was wrecked. Blackbeard sailed on to Bath, North Carolina which was then the state capital. The Governor, Charles Eden (with whom, it was rumoured, Blackbeard was in league) granted him a pardon and even officiated at his wedding - to what was reputed to be his 14th bride!

 

Marco Rabboni The Penitent Magdalene

Legends also suggest that for many years the skull of Blackbeard made the rounds of coastal dinner parties as a sober reminder of the fate of lawless sailors. Other tales claim that the skull played a central role in fraternity rituals in Virginia and Connecticut.

In a footnote in Lee's 1974 book he states that the skull can no longer be located in Virginia, although "a well-known New England writer on pirates and a collector of pirate memorabilia" claimed to be in possession of the famous skull.

The New England writer and collector Lee refers to is no doubt Edward Rowe Snow (1902-1982), Secrets of the North Atlantic Islands, published in 1950, that shows a picture of a skull. The caption reads, "The skull of the famous pirate Blackbeard, photographed with one of his pistols."

In the process of researching the legend and searching for the skull, John Walker, on his web page, Blackbeard, talks about contacting, in 1990, an elderly woman in Massachusetts who claimed to be in possession of Captain Teach's skull. She said she was in the process of donating it to a museum in Salem, Massachusetts.

The Peabody-Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts now holds the skull from the Edward Rowe Snow collection.

On their web page, From the Quarter Deck, Gena and Tom Metcalf, folklorists and historians, are shown holding the object in question.

According to some sources, officials at the museum have never put the skull on display, and refuse to claim it as Blackbeard's citing lack of proof one way or the other. Tom Metcalf, who finds no reason to doubt its authenticity, reports that the skull has been on tour, and even made it to the San Diego Maritime Museum a few years ago.

In his book, Blackbeard's Cup, Charles Whedbee, North Carolina historian and collector of Outer Banks folklore, claimed to have actually drunk from the silver plated skull/punch bowl while on a visit to Ocracoke Island in the early 1930's. Although it is an entertaining story, it is unlikely to have actually happened. To my knowledge, no one on the island has heard of such an object ever being located here, nor do the tales of furtive meetings, solemn rituals, or secret passwords sound convincing. They are more likely the product of an imaginative college graduate's mind than the true account of the lives of the native Outer Bankers I know.

Furthermore, although Whedbee is reported to have seen photos of Edward Rowe Snow with his silvered skull, and to have stated that this skull was indeed the same one he was familiar with, this is difficult to believe. Whedbee, an accomplished storyteller, claimed to have drunk from a shallow bowl fashioned from the top half of a skull. He reports that the vessel bore the curse "Deth to Spotswoode" engraved on the rim. Neither the size, shape, nor details of this skull match those of the skull in the Peabody-Essex Museum.

According to Judge Charles H. Whedbee , after Teach's demise at the hands of Lt. Maynard, his head was cut off and eventually placed on a pole at the entrance to Norfolk, VA as a warning to other pirates. As the story goes, the skull was rescued by some of the "Brethren of the Coast" & fashioned by some local silversmith into a silver cup bearing the curse "Deth to Spotswoode" engraved on the rim.

This cup appears at various times over the next two centuries. According to Judge Whedbee, it was used in a number of college fraternity initiations, both held and drunk from by him, on Ocracoke Island in the 1930's. He had been trying to relocate the cup & had a standing offer of $1,000 to anyone who could produce the silver skull. All attempts by him to locate it had met with failure.

The famed skull cup made from Blackbeards head must have looked something like this. Fashioned by some local silversmith into a silver cup holding his skull cap and bearing the curse "Deth to Spotswoode" engraved on the rim.

1898 "Annals of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania" Volume II, by John F. Watson who states that the skull was "enlarged with silver….and I have seen those whose forefathers have spoken of their drinking punch from it; with a silver ladle appurtenant to that bowl."

After Blackbeard, or Edward Teach was killed and decapitated in November 1718 his skull was hung for many years from a pole at the confluence of the Hampton and James rivers in Chesapeake Bay, Virginia, America.The site is still known as Blackbeard's Point. Perhaps the skull weathered away or was shot at and broken up after it was stuck up on the pole which was usually the fate of such relics.


There is more than one skull that is claimed to be Blackbeard's skull.One is in the Peabody Essex Museum in, East India Square, Salem, Massachusetts. However, the skull doesn’t match the description given in Judge Whedbee’s book, nor is there any mention of the inscription "Deth to Spotswoode" on the cup skull. The cup mentioned in the book is only the very top part of the skull forming a bowl-like shape. Not a complete skull.

http://pages.prodigy.net/rodney.broome/piratewalk14blskull.htm

 


Search eSnips by tags - skull
Search by tags (Enter one or more tags and click ENTER) ... whte skull pnk lines ... Queen Anne's Revenge was the name of Blackbeard's ship. ...

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Sources

1. Meher McArthur, Reading Buddhist Art: An Illustrated Guide to Buddhist Signs and Symbols (Thames & Hudson, 2004), 149.
2. Nitin Kumar, Exotic India Arts.

Sources:
"Blackbeard the Pirate, A Reappraisal of His Life and Times" by Professor Robert E. Lee, pub: John F. Blair, 1974

"Dig for Pirate Treasure" by Robert I. Nesmith, pub.: Devin-Adair Co., NY, 1958

"Blackbeard's Skull and Other Stories of the Outer Banks" by Judge Charles H. Whedbee, pub: John F. Blair

Additional Reading:
Snow, E. R., Pirates and Buccaneers of the Atlantic Coast, Boston, 1944.

Pendered, Norman C., Blackbeard: the Fiercest Pirate of All, pub: Times Printing Co., 1975

The Search For Blackbeard's Skull - Coastal North Carolina, Sou...
The Search For Blackbeard's Skull : : Find attractions, civil war forts, history, events, and things to do, as well as real estate, bed and breakfast inns, ...

http://www.ocracoke-nc.com/blackbeard/treasure/blackbeards-skull.shtml

Blackbeard's Treasure > Pictures & Links About Recovered...
The water is shallow enough that any cargo of value could have been transferred to another ship after it was aground. The Search For Blackbeard's Skull ...

http://www.ocracoke-nc.com/blackbeard/treasure/

Pirate Kids 2: The Search for Blackbeard's Skull (2006) (V)
Pirate Kids 2: The Search for Blackbeard's Skull - Cast, Crew, Reviews, Plot Summary, Comments, Discussion, Taglines, Trailers, Posters, Photos, Showtimes, ...

http://www.us.imdb.com/title/tt0496369/

July 01, 2004
This month I share with you the fascinating story of the search for Blackbeard's skull. But first, two brief comments. Several people have wondered about ...

http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news070104.htm

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Loups-Garoux

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