Tuesday, January 18, 2011

1/18/2011 - Blackbeard's Sword & Lead Sheathing

Bleackbeard's Sword?

Photo by Wendy Welsh of the North Carolina Board of Cultural Resources.

Nobody knows and probably never will know if this is Blackbeard's sword. That is part of the fun and frustration of digging up old stuff. It is almost always a mystery. The best you can do is take all of the clues you can find into account and figure out which scenario best fits the evidence.

Often it is a matter of context. What other things did you find and are they related to the other things you've found in any way? Still there is a lot of conjecture.

After you take into account everything you've learned about what you found, you might have a good idea about where to look next and what you might expect to find. When your predictions are proved time after time, you might conclude that your hypotheses are right. Nonetheless, always be open to new evidence and be ready and willing to change your mind when that seems warranted.

Here is the link to the National Geographic web site where you will find more pictures of the sword.


That is one neat find. And I would guess that it was recovered with the support of generous and hard working tax-payers who seldom get the recognition they deserve.

I just read a report on the "Lead-Sheathed Wreck." I was interested in learning a little more about exactly how lead was used to sheath ships of the colonial period.

I learned a number of things. One thing that I didn't know before is that a type of concrete was used for ballast on ships like the Margarita.

You might find this eight-page archaeological report interesting. Here is the link.

If you find dead birds, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission would like to know. Here is a link to their web site for reporting dead birds.


Yesterday I mentioned that I was checking out one of my old detectors in my back yard and was reminded of a couple things that should be kept in mind.

Among the lovely items I found in my back yard was about twenty nails that were found in a few square feet. I think I might have dropped them not too long ago. Anyhow, after picking up the twenty odd nails, I found another nail at a deeper layer that was definitely from an earlier time period than the ones I found first. I was tempted to quit digging up the more recent nails a couple of times, but kept on digging until I got them all.

Although the older nail was not any great prize, it did illustrate how junk can hide older items. Sometimes you might say that junk actually protects older items.

I was reminded of one place that I used to hunt where there was once an old fort. The area was now a picnic area and was covered with a thick layer of pull tabs that served as sufficient deterrent to most detectorists. As a result, if you had the patience, you could find musket balls and other old stuff hidden under the junk.

Surface trash generally gives loud signals that tend to mask deeper targets. Once you clean out the surface trash you'll start to hear the softer deeper signals. But until you remove the items that give loud signals, you will not hear some of the softer signals from deeper targets. At least that seems to be the true for me.

Another thing I learned is that history repeats. Here is a simple backyard example.

I've been thinking of building a brick barbecue pit out back. When I was using my detector I dug up pieces of an old grill in the same spot that I was going to build mine. I guess the people that originally built this house saw it the same way I did. That is the way it goes.

If there is a spot that looks good for a picnic, swimming, a boat ramp, a camp, or whatever, there is a good chance that somebody else saw it the same way at an earlier time in history. That is something to remember when you are out scouting around for a new spot to detect. And as I said yesterday, it's not a bad thing to do when your regular spots aren't producing.

Forecast and Conditions.

The wind is out of the west and the seas are calm. The seas will only be about three feet or less for the next few days. That means no significant change in conditions.

The west wind might also give you a chance to get a little further out at low tide.

Happy hunting,