Helping the History Channel search for Blackbeard’s lost treasure

It’s not every day that we get a call from a TV producer in LA asking whether H-R would be willing to use our geophysical methods to search for the treasure of the infamous pirate Blackbeard.  But the call did come, thanks to a referral from a friend in the academic world, and suddenly some of us were on a boat to Lunging Island, one of the nine privately owned Isles of Shoals located about six miles off the coast of New Hampshire and Maine.

he H-R team and the History Channel Crew, the H-R team with the "ghost" of Blackbeard's widow, surveying.
L-R: The H-R team and the History Channel Crew, the H-R team with the “ghost” of Blackbeard’s widow, surveying.

What fun we had!  Dorothy Richter and three H-R geophysicists spent a beautiful September day with a professional camera crew, jovial professional actors in full pirate and ghost regalia, the elderly owner of the island who specified the spot where she believes Blackbeard hid the treasure in about 1715, two local historians, and a producer-director who actually shouted “Action!” and “Cut! ”

It’s too bad the producer could not schedule his shoot based on the tide table, since the small “survey area ” was under water for much of the day. He quipped that the rapidly rising tide added an element of drama to our work.

What methods did we use?
Magnetics (G-858G cesium vapor magnetometer), electromagnetic induction (EM61 and EM31), and ground penetrating radar.  What did we find? You can find out in an episode of “History’s Mysteries ” about lost treasures on the History Channel, first broadcast in 2001 and re-run periodically.  There’s a funny photo story by one of the local historians about the whole adventure on the web at  Look for shots of our crew, the pirates, and the ghost.  Also see for some historical perspective, if you are interested.