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.
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
Researchers believe the Queen Ann's Revenge,
founded by Blackbeard, was formally a French
slave ship. This model is on display in Beaufort,
of BBC docudrama about Blackbeard
Carolina Office of Archives and History: Special
Section on BlackBeard
Anne's Revenge Archaeological Site
Video about the potential finding of BlackBeards's
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 (November 23,
1675  – 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
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.
MAN BLACKBEARD AND HIS DEATH
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
- 1717 Blackbeard, Peterborough - 1719 Edward
England, Cadogan Snow - 1719 Howel Davis,
Morning Star - 1721 Thomas Anstis
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:
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
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
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."
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
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
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
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!
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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."
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.
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Queen Anne's Revenge was the name of Blackbeard's
1. Meher McArthur, Reading
Buddhist Art: An Illustrated Guide to Buddhist
Signs and Symbols (Thames & Hudson, 2004),
2. Nitin Kumar, Exotic India Arts.
"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.,
and Other Stories of the Outer Banks"
by Judge Charles H. Whedbee, pub: John F.
Snow, E. R., Pirates and Buccaneers of the
Atlantic Coast, Boston, 1944.
Pendered, Norman C., Blackbeard:
the Fiercest Pirate of All, pub: Times Printing
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