We have gotten some great press lately regarding our recent discovery of a flintlock pistol from the Storm Wreck, discovered and excavated by LAMP archaeologists off St. Augustine. The wreck dates to the colonial era, to perhaps between 1740 and 1780, a period of time which spans both the First Spanish and British Periods of Florida’s history.
The local newspaper, the St. Augustine Record, ran a story in this morning’s paper, on the front page below the fold:
“We were yelling,” said Chuck Meide, archaeological director for the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program. “It was one of those moments. A moment of discovery.”
The discovery was a gentleman’s pocket pistol concealed in a concretion, a concrete-like mass that forms around metal artifacts as they rust in the water.
“Our eyes were instantly drawn to (the pistol),” Meide said. The pistol was one of several items that ended “stuck” together. Other artifacts included a large iron spike, lots of small lead shot known as bird shot (“really, really tiny”), an iron hook, two ring-like objects and a disk of metal.
Channel Four News in Jacksonville also came out to the Lighthouse today for an interview in LAMP’s Conservation Laboratory, to film the pistol and other artifacts. They have a print story on their website, though I haven’t seen the video yet, which aired at 6:00 pm.
“This is a very significant discovery,” said Chuck Meide, archaeologist with First Light Maritime Society. “Before we discovered this shipwreck — this mystery wreck — there had only been one colonial period shipwreck that had been found of the First Coast of Florida. That’s a big deal … to find another one.”
. . . . “The finds that we’re finding off this particular shipwreck give us stories about regional maritime history on the First Coast — stories of people that came here and traded,” said Kathy Fleming, executive director of First Light. “They’re also mysteries. They tell us there is more to be discovered about these people and their lives.”
Please click on these links to read more about our discovery in the St. Augustine Record or on Channel Four’s webpage. As we always strive for accuracy, I’ve listed a few clarifications to statements made in the articles:
1. The pistol handle appears to be decorated, which could possibly be in the form of wire inlay, but not necessarily silver.
2. We have determined, from study of the X-ray image, that the pistol is definitely not loaded.
3. The wreck of the Industry was discovered in 1997 by a research group known as SOAR (Southern Oceans Archaeological Research). One of their principal investigators would go on to found LAMP in 1999.
4. The pistol was not found inside a cauldron, but was embedded within a concretion unearthed in close proximity to the four cauldrons, and other scattered wreckage.
Also, LAMP would like to again thank the Flagler Hospital Imaging Center, for the generous use of their CAT scan equipment, and to the Imaging Center’s staff, who stayed late after hours in order to assist us in the scanning of these artifacts.