Divers from an underwater exploration team have recovered what they believe may be part of the infamous pirate William Kidd’s “treasure.” Led by Barry Clifford, the team recovered a large slab of silver from the ocean depths off the coast of Madagascar.
BBC News reported May 7 that a 110-pound (50-kilogram) slab, a massive bar of silver with the letters “S” and “T” marking it, was pulled from the waters off of the small island of Sainte Marie on Thursday. The silver bar was taken from an area believed to be the sight of the wreck of the Adventure Galley, Captain William Kidd’s ship.
“Captain’s Kidd’s treasure is the stuff of legends,” Clifford told BBC News. “People have been looking for it for 300 years. To literally have it hit me on the head – I thought what the heck just happened to me. I really didn’t expect this.”
And said treasure is the stuff of legends. It was the legend of Captain Kidd and his exploits that inspired the writing of Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1883 novel, Treasure Island.
Capt. William Kidd was commissioned by British authorities in the late 1600s to stop piracy, mostly believed to be perpetrated by the French, in the Indian Ocean. History and legend tells that Kidd, tiring of finding few pirates to relieve of their ill-gotten gain, turned to piracy himself. However, Kidd, who would be tried for piracy in England, would fight the charges, maintaining that all he had done was in service to the British Crown.
Recovered documents have muddied the waters of Kidd’s notoriety, according to a 2011 Reuters report, indicating that politics and losses on investment may have been the seaman’s undoing. And Robert Zachs makes the case in his 2003 book, The Pirate Hunter, that treachery at home branded William Kidd a pirate, whereas his actions may have been questionable at best but actualized at the behest of his government-backed investors.
Kidd’s ship, the Adventure Galley, was purposely sunk off the northern coast of Madagascar in 1698 after it had become unnavigable. Legend has it that it contained Captain Kidd’s maritime spoils. It was the sunken wreckage of that ship that was believed found in 2000. However, historians have remained skeptical, waiting for corroborative carbon dating and other proofs before acknowledging that the wreckage is truly is that of the Adventure Galley.
The silver bar recovered this week, believed to have originated in Bolivia, was presented to the government of Madagascar in a symbolic ceremony. Underwater explorer Barry Clifford believes there are more to be found.
“There’s more down there,” he told BBC News. “I know the whole bottom of the cavity where I found the silver bar is filled with metal. It’s too murky down there to see what metal, but my metal detector tells me there is metal on all sides.”