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Who has a claim to the cannon found at Wilmington’s waterfront?

Jeff Hidek

When artifacts are discovered under the ground, the rights to those artifacts belong to the property owners, said Nathan Henry of the Underwater Archaeology Branch of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

The city of Wilmington owned the land in the Riverfront Park area where the 18th-century cannon was discovered in March. If the cannon had been discovered in the backyard of a private citizen, she or he would get to decide its future.

Private collectors are always on the prowl for such items, and fossils and other unearthed artifacts are a common sight on eBay. But Henry urges people to donate such finds to government agencies and public museums.

“I always try to get it into the public domain so we can put it in the proper place where it would have the most meaning,” he said.

Until money becomes available to preserve the cannon, it is resting in a water solution at Fort Fisher to avoid any further deterioration, according to Wilmington spokesperson Dylan Lee said. Henry hopes that if and when the cannon is restored it can be displayed as close to the place it was unearthed as possible.

Cannon unearthed on Water Street

A cannon was unearthed on Water Street. Courtesy City of Wilmington.

Learn more about the cannon’s discovery here: http://www.starnewsonline.com/news/20160323/cannon-unearthed-on-wilmington-riverfront-likely-from-1700s

User-contributed question by:
Martyn Hawkins

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