Pirate School Visits. Living history presentations about pirates, buccaneers and privateers.
Black Bart's Locker. Pirate school visits. Living history from the golden age of piracy

There are many that would say a pirate was naught but a cut throat vagabond on the high seas. I’d not argue much with that, but as the dread pirate Bartholomew Roberts once said:

In an honest service there is thin commons, low wages, and hard labour; in this, plenty and satiety, pleasure and ease, liberty and power; and who would not balance creditor on this side, when all the hazard that is run for it, at worst is only a sour look or two at choking. No, a merry life and a short one shall be my motto.”

The years between 1680 and 1730 have often been called “The golden age of piracy” and to be sure there was booty to be had and great prizes to be taken.

These were the times of the great pirate captains like Blackbeard, Kidd and Roberts, but why did men like these turn to piracy in the first place?

A presentation for the National Trust at Lodge Park
Pirate at Lodge Park

Many joined ships simply because they had poor prospects on the land, but they soon learned that life at sea for most was short, hard and brutish. Life on a naval ship was often the worse of all, with vicious punishments and enforced service commonplace for the ordinary sailor.

Pirate crews needed skilled seamen and attracted such brutalised souls with tales of rich plunder and easier working conditions. Some crews were run on democratic principles far removed from life in honest servitude.

In reality the prospects were far from good, many pirates ending their careers with a short drop on the gallows, but on almost every ship the pirates captured, there would be willing new crew members ready to sign the articles and join a life at war with all flags.

A pirate crew could rarely call into a friendly port to ride out a storm or resupply so their seamanship often had to surpass that of a legitimate crew. Food and medicines were always high on the list of plunder to be taken.

Loot was divided amongst the crew with extra shares going to the captain and some officers, but few ever became rich on such treasure, most was quickly squandered in port on drink and other excesses.

Pirate food is also discussed in my school visits
A selection of the weaponry used by pirates and displayed in my school visits

Drinking and gambling was a source of potential trouble on board ships and most crews had a set of “Articles” that crew members signed, or made their mark upon, that set rules to reduce such problems.

Disputes were to be dealt with on land and punishments for breaking the rules included death or marooning.

Although today we are often left with an exciting and  romantic view of the pirates in tales like Treasure Island, the lives and adventures of these old sea dogs were just as fascinating in reality.

School Visits


Pirate living history visits for education. School visits linking to the primary framework for literacy, unit 4, adventure and mystery. a pirate school visit is supported with a wide range of artefacts from the golden age of piracy and the presentation is designed to bring pirates, buccaneers and privateers vividly to life in the safety of your own school hall or classroom. Also learn to speak like a pirate with the Piratical Lexicon. A glossary of pirate words and terms..