When we think of pirates, most of us would recognise the name Blackbeard. But who was he and was he really the most famous pirate of all?
Blackbeard really did live through the golden age of piracy (born 1680, died 1718). Blackbeard - or should we say Edward Teach - rose up through the naval ranks before captaining his own ship. Stories of his time at sea depict him as a wicked and terrifying sailor who gave no mercy to those he encountered, sometime even attacking his crew-mates in a frenzy! As for his infamous facial hair... rumour has it that as he approached passing ships, he would set fire to the tip of his beard creating a menacing and utterly manic appearance - a threat to even the most hardened pirate!
His prized ship was named Queen Anne’s Revenge and it was aboard this vessel that Blackbeard rose to notoriety as he sailed to the Caribbean. Lined with 40 cannons and manned with over 300 men, Blackbeard lead his fearsome crew to success. Capturing any boats they encountered, the Queen Anne's fleet quickly grew and soon they manned an impressive flotilla and had plundered vast quantities of treasure.
Close to 300 years later, in 1996, the remains of the Queen Anne were found in North Carolina, USA. Extensive excavations followed and archaeologists have now located over 250,000 items from the boat, many of which are now on show in the Smithsonian Institute.
Teach was just 38 when he died. After angering Alexander Spotswood, the governor of Virginia, a huge fleet of ships was sent to kill Blackbeard. Although he's said to have put up a strong resistance, Blackbeard was shot and stabbed multiple times, leading to his death. His head was hung from the mast - a sight few thought imaginable.
It's over 300 years since Blackbeard's demise and yet his story lives on. There's something alluring about pirates that keeps children and adults hooked and the story of Edward Teach is one of the most gripping of them all...
If your class is learning about pirates, our Blackbeard virtual visit is guaranteed to shiver your timbers!