Tales of swashbuckling pirates are often said to take place far out on the open oceans. The stereotypical nomadic pirate usually sail wooden vessels with ominous flags, and living a life of malicious crimes and debauchery. That’s all right about pirates (pun unintended), but true legend has it that the most vicious pirates didn’t only make a living on the seas, but also on land. We’re not going to talk about their livelihoods, what we’re interested in is how they were buried. Ahoy landlubbers, welcome to Île Sainte Marie, it’s probably home to the world’s only known pirate cemetery.
Related media: Pirate Cemetery, Île Sainte Marie / Madagascar
Th’ Isles O’ Pirates
Île Sainte Marie translates as “Island of Saint Mary,” it’s a small island about 8 kilometers (5 miles) off the coast of Madagascar. Back in the 17th and 18th centuries, it was home to an estimated 1,000 pirates. For over a century, almost anyone who ever made a living as a pirate in the world was said to have lived on the island when they weren’t looting the oceans.
The island is rocky and scattered with secluded bays, this might have offered the perfect hiding place for pirates — no wonder, a pirate is always on the run — while the island’s convenient location along the East Indies route (the Monsoon Marketplace) made that perfect spot to stealthily intercept treasure-filled ships. Who says pirates are dumb?
In addition, living on a tropical island isn’t such a bad choice of residence for anyone, be it you, or even pirates. Some pirates on the island even when on further as to raise families on the island, whereas the free-wheeling bachelor pirates were lured onto the island by the beautiful women of the island.
“Sailors, by the nature of their profession, are men without women, and therefore men of many women.” The Columbian Exchange.
What more could they ask for?
Ye Ol Farewell, O Me Scallywags
In fact, we’d all confess that there’s nothing so glorious about pirates, (no apologies); except for the fact that (if only you’re a pirate) you could be looting people of their treasures. But, that alone doesn’t mean that their fellow scallywags didn’t give them a final rite of passage when their souls departed from the mortal world.
Today, Île Sainte Marie is home to the only known pirate graveyard in the world — like seriously! Pirates were said to have been buried atop a hill overlooking the water. The infamous and notorious marauders like Thomas Tew are known to have been laid to rest on the island, buried six feet underneath crumbling tombstones adorned with weird-looking symbols of skulls and crossbones. Now that’s one heck of a spooky way to be buried.
Least we forget, if you have any great-great-great grand pirate ancestors, chances are they might have been buried on the island. You can surely pay them a visit. Although, the graveyard is open to the public, worse yet you’ll surely groove through the overgrown tall grasses and a few tombstones that are still intact. That doesn’t stop adventurous travelers from paying a visit.
Th’ Treasure O’ Adventure Galley
Top of the list visitors often to the island are archeologists, no wonder. They are less interested in the graveyard and more intrigued by what’s hidden underneath the sea next to the island. Right now, several shipwrecks are believed to have lurk off the shores of the island, including the infamous William Kidd’s Adventure Galley.
The legend goes like: Once upon returning to the island after his conquests, Kidd decided it was time to retire his current vessel and start afresh. Its believed that he loaded all the treasure he had onto a new vessel and sunk the Adventure Galley — together with some of his booty.
Go on a summer vacation to Île Sainte Marie and take a dive in the ocean and you might just head your way with a treasure bounty.
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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Tue, Apr 09, 2019.