Skip to main content
Pirate treasure chest

The mystery of Blackbeard's treasure: Where is it buried?


He was one of the most feared pirates of his time who amassed a vast fortune from pillaging the seas during the Golden Age of Piracy. Although Blackbeard's reign of terror was short-lived, his fearsome reputation has echoed throughout the centuries.

Going hand-in-hand with his infamy is the captivating mystery of his legendary lost treasure. Where is it? What does it contain? Has any of it ever been found?

Grab your spades as we’re digging into one of history’s greatest unsolved treasure hunts.

Who was Blackbeard?

Very little is known of Blackbeard’s early years, although we do know his real name was Edward Teach (alternatively spelt Edward Thatch). It’s presumed he was born in England, probably Bristol around the 1680s, making him around 35-40 years old when he died on 22nd November 1718.

How did he become a pirate?

Teach served as a privateer during Queen Anne’s War, the North American theatre of the War of the Spanish Succession. Privateers were private individuals or ships who were commissioned by governments to legally carry out acts of war. In a nutshell, they were pirates with papers.

Teach’s first appearance in the official records came in December 1716, when he’s documented as being in charge of a sloop (a sailing boat with just a single mast and headsail) in the crew of English pirate Captain Benjamin Hornigold. After many successful acts of piracy together, Hornigold decided to retire towards the end of 1717, leaving Teach to go it alone.

It wasn’t long before Teach captured the enormous French slaving ship ‘La Concorde’ off the coast of Saint Vincent. Teach loaded it with 40 canons and renamed it the ‘Queen Anne’s Revenge’. During the next 12 months, Teach conducted several audacious acts of piracy and cemented his reputation as one of the most fearsome marauders of his time.

These included capturing, looting and burning the large merchant vessel known as the ‘Protestant Caesar’ and blockading the port of Charleston (then known as Charles Town) in South Carolina for several days.

Why was he called Blackbeard?

Teach actively sought infamy to enhance his fearsome reputation so it was easier for him and his crew to intimidate the ships they went after. Already a tall and broad-shouldered man with a large thick black beard, a facial accessory that was far from the norm in those days, Teach enhanced his look with three pairs of pistols hung from a silk sling wrapped around his shoulder. A cutlass and some knives completed the look.

Teach was also known to light slow fuses under his hat before going into battle, shrouding himself in smoke and looking like the devil himself.

What happened to Blackbeard?

Things unravelled for Blackbeard after he ran his beloved Queen Anne’s Revenge aground near Beaufort Inlet, North Carolina, in June 1718. Setting up camp on nearby Ocracoke Island, Blackbeard received a royal pardon from Governor Charles Eden and seemingly turned his back on piracy.

However, it was all a ruse and he was soon back to his old tricks. In the end, Lieutenant Robert Maynard engaged Blackbeard in battle under the orders of Alexander Spotswood, the Governor of Virginia. Blackbeard was beheaded and his reign of terror was over.

What happened to Blackbeard’s treasure?

Pillaging the Caribbean during the Golden Age of Piracy was extremely profitable and like other pirates operating during that time, Blackbeard would have amassed a small fortune. Although his time as a pirate lasted just over a year, Blackbeard was extremely good at what he did, leading many to believe his fortune (in modern terms) was well into the tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions.

After Blackbeard’s death, nothing was found on any of his ships. Contrary to popular notion, the pirate practice of leaving a treasure map with an ‘X’ marking the spot is sadly just a modern myth. So where did all the loot go?

Theories about where Blackbeard’s treasure might be

  • Beaufort Inlet

The most significant find in the hunt for Blackbeard’s treasure has been the discovery of the Queen Anne’s Revenge in 1996. Just 25 feet below the water near Beaufort Inlet, the wreck has been studied by marine archaeologists for over a quarter of a century. Although no treasure has been found aboard the vessel, many objects of historical importance have been brought to the surface. Is there still more to find at the wreck site? Only time will tell.

  • Ocracoke Island

After the Queen Anne’s Revenge ran aground, Blackbeard made camp on Ocracoke Island. Some believe he was able to unload his treasure and hide it somewhere on Ocracoke Island. Although we often associate pirates with buried treasure, only one pirate is ever documented to have carried out this practice, William Kidd. Therefore, it's more likely that a cave was used by Blackbeard to store his stolen loot, but so far nothing has been found.

  • Far and wide

Blackbeard was prolific across the Caribbean and would have come into port in a variety of different places across this region. Given that no one knows when the treasure was last seen, it really could be anywhere.

  • It doesn’t exist

There is a large possibility that there is no treasure to be found. Given the uncertainty of Blackbeard's hiding place and the fact that over 300 years have passed with not even a whiff of gold being discovered, it suggests that there might not be anything to find after all. Or nothing we were meant to find at least.

According to legend, when asked about the location of his treasure if he should die in battle, Blackbeard replied, ‘that no-body but himself and the Devil, knew where it was’.