Queen Anne’s Revenge artifacts on display in Bath

Published 6:31 pm Friday, March 2, 2018

BATH — The story of the pirate Blackbeard, aka Edward Teach, is etched upon the landscape of Coastal North Carolina somewhere between myth and history.

From his high society gallivanting among the ladies and gentlemen of Colonial Bath to his final battle with Lt. Robert Maynard off the shores of Ocracoke, Blackbeard’s exploits on the Inner and Outer Banks are nothing short of legendary.

For the next three months, area residents will have an opportunity to experience this legend firsthand in Bath. Through May 31, artifacts from Blackbeard’s ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, will be on temporary display in newly-christened Historic Bath Exhibit Center, in the northwest wing of the old Bath High School. The traveling exhibit comes to Bath as part of a statewide tour commemorating the 300th anniversary of the sinking of the QAR and Blackbeard’s death.

Artifacts of all sorts, including cutlery, rigging and munitions, are encased in glass display cases throughout the exhibit hall; each providing a glimpse of what daily life on the QAR might have looked like. One of the ship’s cannons, a special piece on loan from the Queen Anne’s Revenge Conservation Lab in at East Carolina University, serves one of the exhibit’s centerpieces.

In order to conserve the artifacts brought up from the bottom of Beaufort Inlet, conservationists at the lab must keep them submerged in a sodium solution, sometimes for years, before they can chip away at the concretions that have developed on the artifacts during their centuries underwater.

CANNON: This cannon, on loan from the Queen Anne’s Revenge Conservation Lab in Greenville, is one of the centerpieces of the exhibit. (Matt Debnam/Daily News)


Local and state dignitaries gathered in the renovated exhibit space Friday morning for a ribbon cutting and remarks on what makes this exhibit significant for Bath and Beaufort County as a whole. Among those participating in the ceremony were local political figures, representatives of the Historic Bath Foundation and the Historic Bath Commission, and North Carolina State Historic Sites.

“We have more artifacts and more interpretive items here in Bath than we have had at any other stop on this traveling exhibit,” said NCDNCR Deputy Secretary Dr. Kevin Cherry. “We also have a cannon from the conservation lab that is not going to any other site.”

As to Blackbeard’s significance to the area and the state as a whole, Cherry sees the story of Edward Teach as a critical piece in telling the story of North Carolina.

“Blackbeard and piracy is one of the stories we tell ourselves that help make our identity,” Cherry said. “North Carolinians and all people make their identities by the stories they tell themselves. It’s central to our identity as North Carolinians because it’s so tied with our coastline, which helped make our state. Those coves and shallow waters which made this a pirate haven helped make North Carolina. Our geography, our pirate story and who we are all tied together.”

ARTIFACTS: Five glass artifact cases adorn the exhibit hall, each displaying items recovered from the QAR. (Matt Debnam/Daily News)


In addition to unveiling the exhibit to the public, the ceremony served a dual role in marking the grand opening of the exhibit hall after a lengthy renovation process. According to Jerry Waters, president of the Historic Bath Foundation, this opening marks a significant milestone for that organization. For 18 years, the Foundation has had a vision of creating an exhibit hall in Bath. With more than $850,000 raised towards that goal, mostly during the past year, that vision has finally become a reality.

“The major mission of the Historic Bath Foundation was to purchase and acquire property and items for donation to the historic sites,” Waters said. “One of the major goals was to create an exhibit center. Today represents the fruition of this goal.”

Funding the renovations has been largely a grassroots campaign. With a $350,000 matching grant bestowed by the Eddie and Jo Allison Smith Family Foundation, the remainder of the $850,000 came from local groups and individuals, as well as $50,000 from the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners.

There is still more work to be done at the high school, however, with plans in the works to renovate the second story and install an elevator to allow handicap accessibility. Waters estimates that this next phase of the project will cost approximately $400,000.

GUESTS: Visitors browse the artifacts on display in the newly-renovated Historic Bath Exhibit Center. (Matt Debnam/Daily News)


While the Queen Anne’s Revenge may have gone down 300 years ago, another piece of more recent history is also on display at the Exhibit Hall. Original costumes collected from “Blackbeard: Knight of the Black Flag,” the landmark outdoor drama which attracted visitors to Bath and Beaufort County from 1977 to 2006.

In addition to the costumes, many of which are displayed with pieces of the original set, the exhibit also contains original promotional artwork for the play created by Washington artist Whiting Toler.

COSTUMES: In addition to the items on display from the QAR, a second display in the Historic Bath Exhibit Center displays costumes from the outdoor drama “Blackbeard: Knight of the Black Flag.” Pictured in the foreground are costumes worn by actors portraying Blackbeard and his love interest, Mary Ormond. (Matt Debnam/Daily News)


Since October 2017, the artifacts from the QAR have been on display at the North Carolina State Fair, The Western Regional Offices of Archives and History in Asheville and the North Carolina Transportation Museum.

From Bath, the exhibit will travel to four more costal locations during 2018, including the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum on Cape Hatteras, the Edenton Historic Site, East Carolina University and the NC Maritime Museum in Southport.

For more information on Blackbeard’s 300th, and events commemorating the anniversary throughout the state, click to www.ncdcr.gov/bb300. For information on special events in Bath, call the Historic Bath Visitor Center at 252-923-8549.