Weird History
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What The Graves Of Real Pirates Actually Look Like

December 14, 2020 2.0k votes 224 voters 12.8k views12 items

List RulesVote up the graves that send a shiver up your timbers.

Pirates are a part of history that almost doesn't seem real. They, along with Vikings, and other spectacularly costumed seafaring explorers and raiders, occupy a space in our brains somewhere between reality and the mythical, larger-than-life legend. We know they existed, but something about the magnitude of it all makes it seem as though it were fictional all the same.

Defining a pirate can be a tricky thing. One nation's pirate can be another nation's naval hero. Then throw privateers into the mix - a form of legalized piracy recognized as legit by the nation issuing the license but considered piratical acts by those being raided - and the whole matter becomes muddy. To simplify the matter, any seafarer raiding a ship for their personal gain will be considered a pirate.

Tracking down the graves of such individuals is another matter entirely, for many captains have gone down with the ships, while many possible pirate graves only bear a skull and crossbones as their evidence. 

These issues aside, here are what some real pirate graves actually look like.

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    Joseph Pierre Lechartier - Île Sainte Marie, Madagascar

    Joseph Pierre Lechartier is one of the many pirates laid to rest in the pirate cemetery of Île Sainte Marie. Little is known of his exploits or on which ships he sailed. The graveyard on Île Sainte Marie, also known as Nosy Boraha, has about 30 tombstones remaining. 

    Joseph Pierre Lechartier's grave is one of the few left with a legible name attached.

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    • Photo: Joeran.K / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

      Olivier Levasseur was a French pirate, nicknamed La Buse or The Buzzard, operating in the early 1700s. According to legend, he left behind a treasure worth an estimated  £100 million that may be found by solving a cryptogram.

      • Age: Dec. at 41 (1689-1730)
      • Birthplace: Calais, France
      • Gender: Male
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    • Dominique You served under the pirate Jean Lafitte. You and the rest of LaFitte's crew had their piracy pardoned by the United States when they helped Andrew Jackson to victory in the Battle Of New Orleans.

      • Age: Dec. at 55 (1775-1830)
      • Birthplace: Saint-Domingue
      • Gender: Male
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      Unknown Grave From A Pirate Cemetery - Île Sainte Marie, Madagascar

      Île Sainte Marie, Madagascar, was a hotbed of pirate activity for a 100-year stretch in the 17th and 18th centuries. A map from 1733 refers to it as “the Island of Pirates.” This is one of the 30 remaining tombstones in the pirate graveyard,

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