Blackbeard's anchor brought to the surface after 293 years

Archaeologists this morning successfully raised an anchor from the Queen Anne's Revenge, the ship that pirate Blackbeard and his crew intentionally grounded near Beaufort in 1718.

The nearly 3000-pound anchor is the largest artifact yet recovered from the wreck of the notorious pirate's flagship.

The anchor, one of four carried aboard the ship, was atop a pile of debris, which appears to be the remnants of the middle part of the ship, including its cargo hold, said Mark Wilde-Ramsing, a deputy state archaeologist and director of the Queen Anne's Revenge project.

Next week, Wilde-Ramsing said, researchers hope to dig a small test hole into the side of the pile where the anchor was removed to get a sense of what else might be hidden there. They're particularly keen to find organic material such as seeds and spores that could help detail the pirates' stops in exotic ports.

Queen Anne's Revenge was originally the French slave ship La Concorde that Blackbeard and his band captured in the fall of 1717 in the Caribbean and renamed. It led a four-ship pirate fleet that hunted for prey in the Caribbean over the winter, then moved up the U.S. coast in the spring of 1718.

After blockading Charleston and holding hostages until terrified residents handed over a chest of medicine as ransom, the pirates ran their flagship aground near the inlet leading to Beaufort in what some think was an intentional act by Blackbeard to reduce the size of the fleet. Blackbeard, an Englishman whose real name was thought to be Edward Teach, was killed by Royal Navy sailors in a battle near Ocracoke a few months later.