TREASURE belonging to the Scottish pirate William Kidd – who inspired Robert Louisn Stevenson’s novel Treasure Island – is believed to have been discovered off the coast of Madagascar.
The bounty was found by divers off Sainte Marie island and includes a 50kg silver bar.
Madagascar’s president and UK and US diplomats received the treasure at a ceremony on the island where it remains under armed guard, the BBC reports.
Archaeologists have stated that it was owned by Capt Kidd, who was also once accused of murdering a member of his own crew.
He was executed for piracy in 1701 after returning home from a voyage in the Indian Ocean.
The infamous pirate had to be hung three times after the first two ropes used in his execution broke.
His body was then dipped in tar and hung from gallows above the River Thames to act as a warning to anyone considering a life of piracy.
Legends say Kidd hid most of his bounty, leading to many treasure hunts over the years.
The treasure dates to the 17th century and BBC journalist Martin Vogl tweeted updates about the ceremony where Madagascar’s president received the alleged treasure.
It was found by underwater archaeologist Barry Clifford, who is best known for discovering the wreck of the ship Whydah – the first verified pirate shipwreck ever discovered.
Martin Vogl tweeted several pictures from the ceremony and said Timothy Smart, UK ambassador to Madagascar, hoped the discovery would raise Madagascar’s profile as a tourist destination.
Vogl said: “Divers just pulled this 50kg silver bar out of Sainte Marie island Madagascar. Say it could be pirate treasure.
“Team believes silver bar came from wreckage of pirate Captain Kidd’s ship – one of the most famous pirates who operated out of Madagascar.”
Captain William Kidd is beleived to have been born in or around Dundee in 1645.
It was in 1695, that the “trusty and well beloved Captain Kidd” was appointed by the Crown as a privateer to fight piracy and to capture and loot enemy French ships.
His expedition was financed by English noblemen, and Kidd was presented with a letter of marque, signed by William III, reserving 10 per cent of the loot for the Crown.
Kidd embraced his appointment, and in 1698 looted the Armenian ship the Quedagh Merchant, which was sailing under a French flag. The ship’s captain, however, was English and a number of naval commanders were subsequently ordered to “pursue and seize the said Kidd and his accomplices” for the “notorious piracies” they had committed. Kidd was captured and executed three years later.
Kidd was not just executed for piracy though, but also for the murder of a member of his own crew. In 1697, he killed a mutinous gunner, William Moore, by hitting him over the head with a bucket, fracturing his skull.