ECU maritime studies professor Bradley Rodgers and a team of students have mounted the first scientific exploration of an unidentified shipwreck site in Bermuda. (Photos contributed by the National Museum of Bermuda)

East Carolina University archeologists working in partnership with the National Museum of Bermuda (NMB) have announced that they may be one step closer to linking an unidentified shipwreck site to the nearly 400–year-old story of a stranded Dutch privateer or pirate ship.

The wooden sailing ship, described by the fifth Bermuda Governor Nathaniel Butler as a Dutch pinnace traveling from the Caribbean, reportedly grounded on the rocks of Bermuda’s western reef in 1619. Islanders rescued the Dutch and English crew of down-on-their-luck buccaneers, and they were repatriated within a year; the ship itself was reportedly left to wind and weather, disappearing with the next Atlantic-borne storm.

New archeological evidence, however, suggests that Bermudians may have secretly lightered the cargo ashore and floated the ship off the reef, hiding it in a shallow bay to salvage arms, lumber and hardware — essential commodities for an isolated but burgeoning colony.

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Originally published May 18, 2018. Written by Kristin Zachary. Photo contributed by the National Museum of Bermuda.

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