Artifacts could be key to Blackbeard mystery

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Archaeologists working with the Queen Anne's Revenge Project have found a coat button and some hardware that looks like it might be part of a set of shackles - both items that could have belonged to the pirate Blackbeard or one of his crew.

The artifacts are buried in separate concretions of sand and shell raised from a shipwreck on the ocean floor.

"We're planning to work on the two concretions during January to extract the button and the possible shackles," said Sarah Watkins-Kenney, who heads up the QAR Conservation lab in Greenville.

They know the items are there because they had the concretions x-rayed. At least they know the button is there. They're not certain the other item is shackles.

"We can't be 100 percent sure until we excavate the concretion," Watkins-Kenney said.

Archaeologists also cannot be sure how significant the artifacts will be to tying the shipwreck to Blackbeard until they chisel away the hardened layers surrounding them.

The button is about three-quarters of an inch wide, made of a copper alloy or pewter and appears well-preserved, Watkins-Kenney said.

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