Pirates of the Caribbean fans, eat your heart out. Those dudes we’ve only imagined floating around and sailing the high seas in movies one day had their time in the proverbial sun. And recently a group of them was found on a sunken ship. Historians are in the process of authenticating the remains found, but it looks like they’ve discovered at least six pirates who date back to the early 1700s.
This discovery of actual pirates bones comes from one of the only confirmed pirate ship wreckage sites out there. The wreckage where the bones were buried in Davy Jones Locker dated all the way back to 1717 and were located off the coast of Massachusetts. Historians are now testing them for their authenticity.
The pirates in question were aboard The Whydah Gally which was originally a slave and trading ship. According to history, this ship was taken and seized by a group of pirates led by Samuel “Black Sam” Bellamy. The name sounds like it’s right out of a movie which is perfect. Now despite the menacing title, it appears Black Sam might have been the hero in this story. During his time sailing the seas, he was robbing and capturing slave ships which were coming from Africa. And during this time he was also employing escaped slaves as part of his core strategy.
But while looting up and down the United States eastern seaboard, pirates aboard The Whydah hit a nor-easter off the coast of Massachusetts and sustained heavy damage. Eventually, in the storm, it ran ashore on a sandbar island and eventually sank. There were only two survivors and a lot of gold, weapons and other treasures ended up at the bottom of the seas. Though looters went out even the next day looking for the remains, for a long time the ship was lost to the sea.
The ship was essentially lost to the ocean and the marching on of time until in 1984 Barry Clifford, an underwater explorer, actually found the ship on the ocean floor. Since then, he and his team have led a steady excavation of the findings, uncovering all manners of things from the wreckage. It was this team that found the six pirates bodies and one is thought to be that of Bellamy.
The Whydah Pirates Museum in Cape Cod is currently the home for many of the treasures and artifacts that have been dug up over the years for the ship. Among other things, they claim to house the “largest collection of pirate artifacts ever recovered from a single shipwreck”. Unlike other portrayals of pirates in stories or movies, here they are celebrated as emancipators, fighting against slave ships and corrupt trade deals. It’s an interesting and different take, one the museum clearly leans into.
Whether this latest pirate discovery begins reshaping the narrative around the swashbuckling scourges of the seas remains to be seen. But it’s clear the story around these guys is much more layered than just your standard storybook fare. And that’s cool a look at history, one that continues to reshape as more is discovered.