Is this bar of silver the lost treasure of Captain Kidd? Ingot was part of legendary pirate’s booty, say archaeologists, after discovering it off the coast of Madagascar

May 27, 2016

The discovery of a huge silver bar worth £17,000 in the Indian Ocean could finally solve the mystery of a notorious 17th century pirate’s missing loot.

One of the most infamous pirates of all time, Captain William Kidd was said to have amassed treasure worth £100,000 – £12 million now – before he was arrested for piracy and murder.

Soldiers have been guarding the 50kg bar on Sainte Marie Island, Madagascar, after it was brought ashore by divers led by US underwater archaeological explorer, Barry Clifford.

Scotsman Capt Kidd buried a cache somewhere on his travels and at his trial in London, in 1701, tried to barter his knowledge of its location in return for his life.

His plan failed and he was sentenced to hang, his decaying body dipped in tar then strung up in chains and left to rot in public view beside the River Thames to deter other would-be pirates.

The treasure has never been found – but experts believe the bar of silver, itself worth more than £17,000 at today’s prices, could be part of the famous loot.

The fate of Capt Kidd’s treasure has prompted numerous hunts around the world over the last three centuries, and his exploits inspired author Robert Louis Stevenson when writing Treasure Island.

Mr Clifford presented the suspected treasure to Madagascar’s president, Hery Rajaonarimampianina and UK and US diplomats at a ceremony on the island.

Martin Vogl, a Madagascar-based journalist, said: ‘The team believe the silver bar came from wreckage 嘉盛外汇 of pirate Captain Kidd’s ship – one the most famous pirates who operated out of Madagascar.’

Mr Vogl added that officials including UK ambassador to Madagascar, Timothy Smart, are hoping the discovery will ‘raise the profile of Madagascar, especially for tourists’.

Capt Kidd was tried not only for piracy but also on the accusation he murdered one of his crewmen in 1697.

His execution was not straightforward, with the noose around his neck twice breaking – but the third rope held firm.

The buccaneer operated across the world, from the Atlantic to the Far East, as well as in the Indian Ocean.

Searches for his treasure have been carried out in locations ranging from the East Coast of America and the Caribbean to the South China Sea.

Capt Kidd had been appointed by the crown to tackle piracy and capture enemy French ships.

But his own pirating exploits came to light in 1698, when he looted an Armenian ship, the Quedagh Merchant, which was sailing under a French pass but captained by an Englishman.


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