Gaillard bones not those of pirates, experts say

CHARLESTON, SC (WCIV) -- Archaeologists said Monday that a hopeful speculation that the bones unearthed at the Gaillard Auditorium were those of pirates were unfounded.

A hopeful tipster speculated to ABCNews4 that the bones might be those of Stede Bonnet, known as the Gentleman Pirate, and his crew. According to historical documents, Bonnett and his crew were involved in a battle at sea off the coast of the Carolinas{}in 1718.

According to Byrd Downey, the author of "Stede Bonnet: Charleston's Gentleman Pirate,"{}Bonnet and his crew of 29 were captured and eventually hanged at White Point Gardens. Then another pirate, Richard Worley, and his crew of 18 were hanged.

Dr. Nick Butler with the Charleston County Library{}said pirates were traditionally buried between high tide and low tide in the marsh. The area where the bones were discovered was supposedly farm land, not marsh land, refuting the pirate theory.

Downey said the city walls around Charleston ended at Cumberland street in the 1700s. The Market Street area was even a creek at that time, he said. He agreed that the area around Gaillard Auditorium was rural farmland in the 1700s, adding that it didn't make sense for pirates to be buried there.

But, Downey said lore suggests that most pirates were buried where Water Street meets Meeting Street, saying a dig{}in the area of{}First Baptist Church could yield some interesting results.

Archaeologists also said that the graves were put there at different times and were of different sizes, indicating that there may have been children buried there, which further disproves the speculation.

Meanwhile, excavation and construction continues at the auditorium.

The biggest obstacle for the excavation process has been the rain. However, the process is expected to continue Wednesday, so long as weather is permitting.

They do not believe there are any more bones or artifacts to be uncovered at the site.

Crews have been recovering bones and other artifacts that date back into the early 1800s or event the 1700s for over a week. Last week, the crews found another eight graves and what is thought to be a revolutionary War-era cannonball.

So far, there have been 37 graves found at the Gaillard site.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off