Crew works to save oldest-known shipwreck on N.C. coast

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It was a race against the tide to dig the 12-ton remains of the shipwreck, more than 300 years old, free of the soft sand and get it up on a homemade wooden sled and down the beach to high ground, where it would not disappear or break apart any further.

This ship is one of a dozens along the coast visible in the surf or just offshore and among some 5,000 recorded wrecks along what’s known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic. But this wreck of hand-hewn beams of various sizes fastened entirely of wooden pegs is probably the oldest of them all.

After a November storm fully exposed the wreck, state archaeologists came to document and research her. After likely sitting buried in the sand in one place for more than 300 years, the wreck drifted more than two miles over the next two months. Some of the planks were lost. A large piece of the keel disappeared. Then in the last two weeks, the wreck moved back north again about a mile.

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