The top 25 treasures discovered on Oak Island… So far

Rick and Marty Lagina

The mystery of Oak Island has captivated treasure hunters for centuries. Most recently, the search for the Oak Island treasure has been taken up by Rick and Marty Lagina, whose quest is chronicled in The Curse of Oak Island. Whilst the fabled treasure hoard has yet to be discovered, various intriguing historical items have been dug up over the years by the Laginas themselves and by earlier treasure hunters. Here are the top 25 discoveries on the island.

1. The Money Pit

The discovery that started it all. In 1795, 16-year-old Daniel McGuiness went on a fishing expedition to Oak Island. Upon landing, he came across an oak tree with unnatural markings. A depression was also spotted beneath the tree. Along with two friends, he began digging, finding patched logs at regular intervals. They would return years later with a larger group, and subsequent excavations revealed a structured pit - somewhere to hide precious jewels perhaps?

2. Jewelled Brooch

Now jumping 200 years, at lot 21 on the western side of Oak Island, the Laginas found a jewelled brooch. This was near where Daniel McGuiness had lived. Was it a treasure he had discovered?

3. Granite Stone

Found 90 feet down the Money Pit was a granite stone. One carved with peculiar symbols. No-one has accurately deciphered the code though one attempt gives the translation ‘Forty feet below, two million pounds are buried’.

4. Coconut Fibres

During the early excavations of The Money Pit, searchers found large amounts of coconut fibre at a depth of 60 feet. But the nearest coconut trees were 1500 miles away. A puzzling find, some believe the fibres could have been used to create rope to lower fortunes.

5. Swages

The Laginas found two iron objects in Lot 21, on the western end of the island. These were later specified as swages, a type of blacksmith tool and dated as far back as the 14th century. The team saw the equipment as evidence of intense mining operations on the island.

6. Bone Fragments

The team recovered two fragments at borehole H8 in The Money Pit area. These were initially identified as human, and later testing showed one was of European ancestry and the other Middle Eastern.

7. Chain

At a neighbouring borehole, a piece of chain was found coupled with some bone. The team linked this to a theory that after the treasure was buried, some of the slaves who dug the shaft were chained and buried alive, deep underground – their vengeful spirits would guard the vault and curse any explorers!

8. Ancient Manuscripts

Whilst the Oak Island Treasure Company was excavating in the late 1800s, they hit a cement-like level 153ft underground. After drilling through they found a small parchment. One theory suggests, this parchment may originate from a collection of Shakespeare's lost manuscripts, hidden on Oak Island by 'the true author' of Shakespeare's plays, Francis Bacon, the 16th century scientist, writer and explorer and friend of the Bard.

9. Leather Book Binding

Decades later, the Laginas discovered small pieces of parchment with leather binding in the H-8 spoils near the pit. Could these be further pieces of Shakespeare’s lost manuscripts?

10. Roman Sword

In 2015, it was reported a fisherman pulled out a Roman sword from the waters by Oak Island. Though this discovery would have rewritten history, putting Romans in North America, this discovery turned out too good to be true. In fact, the sword was a modern replica of a Roman sword, not a 2,000 year-old original.

11. Roman Numerals

As a result of damming and draining at Smith’s Cove, a U-shaped wooden formation was unearthed. Closer inspection revealed Roman numerals. As a result of tree ring testing, the structure was dated to 1769 – 25 years before The Money Pit discovery – with the team speculating that this could have been part of the original treasure shaft.

12. Nolan’s Cross

In 1981, Fred Nolan – an Oak Island resident and treasure hunter- discovered five large boulders that formed a huge symmetrical cross. Another boulder was found at the centre of the cross, with a human face and sword image – traits synonymous with Templar tombs. Now known as Nolan’s Cross, these boulders might be evidence that an Atlantic fleet of Templars went to Oak Island…and possibly buried some treasure.

13. Templar Coin

A coin was found by the Laginas near the money pit, embedded with a Templar cross. Throughout the Medieval period, the Templars amassed huge wealth, stored in fortresses across Europe. For the team, this was proof that some of that wealth was buried on the Island.

14. Templar Cross

A lead cross was discovered near Smith’s Cove. The team then went to Domme Prison in France, where Templar knights were once imprisoned. Religious carvings scattered the wall. Markings included the Virgin Mary, Jesus, and a cross almost identical to the piece found on the island.

15. Crossbow Bolt

There were more Templar discoveries! One such being a Crossbow bolt found in lot 26, on the southwest shore. After close examination, the team identified it as medieval, dating it as far back to the 13th century with Templar origin.

16. Spanish Coin

A copper coin was found by the team at the island swamp. After taking it to specialists, it was believed to have been made in the 17th century. One theory suggests that Spanish explorers hid a treasure trove instead of giving it to the then King. Was this that treasure? Or was it just dropped by someone else looking for the gold?

17. Spanish Silver Ring

Also found at the swamp was a silver ring. This was passed onto a professional Gemologist; it was established that two repairs had been made – one to make the ring bigger and one to make it smaller. It’s chiselled floral design pointed to 1730s European origin, possibly Spanish.

18. Ship Brace

Another theory suggests that the swamp might hide a sunken ship. Put simply, a treasure ship was sailed in and the goods offloaded. The ship then became grounded, and in an attempt to remove evidence, it was destroyed. The team made this link when they discovered a ship brace at the swamp that had been under significant stress with signs of being burnt in a fierce fire. After speaking to a blacksmith, they were told such an event would have most likely happened in the 18th century.

19. Ship Spikes

Numerous ship spikes have also been found across the island, from the Swamp to the Money Pit. Were they part of a docking wharf used to offload treasure?

20. Encampment of Samuel Ball

Whilst searching for artefacts on lot 24, the team came across coins, buttons, and even a pistol part. The area was once owned by resident Samuel Ball. Ball was born into slavery in South Carolina in 1764. He eventually won freedom by fighting for the British in the American Revolution, and after the war moved to Nova Scotia. In 1786 he purchased a 4-acre lot on Oak Island (a premium price for a relatively small piece of land). One theory questions whether Ball discovered treasure…and kept it a secret.

21. Tunnel

Near the home of Samuel Ball, the team discovered what appeared to be a man-made stone tunnel, hypothesizing that this could have been a path to a potential vault of Ball’s wealth.

22. Keyhole

Whilst metal detecting, the team uncovered a keyhole with a floral ornate style - possibly part of a chest. It’s rumoured that one of Captain James Anderson’s three missing treasure chests is buried on the island…did the Laginas find part of one?

23. Ancient Pottery

On lot 12, the team dug a trench 2ft down in an area on Fred Nolan’s maps once described as an ancient dumpsite. Here, they found pieces of pottery, possibly left behind by depositors.

24. Hidden Hatch

The brothers were shown a 14th century-old map of the island, which pointed to a hatch on the western side. The team visited the area and lo and behold, discovered a square-shaped hatch – maybe a back entrance to the Money Pit?

25. Silver Button

The team discovered a silver button at Isaac point, possibly dating back to the mid-18th century. However, this was not an unusual find. It’s possible that this belonged to a farmer, as prior to the discovery of The Money Pit, the island was mainly used to raise livestock safely away from predators.

Written by:

Yadavan Moorthy

Yadavan Moorthy is a freelance writer from London specialising in history, and is currently contributing to Sky HISTORY.