Curse of Oak Island recap and what’s coming up in season 8
The wait is over, and the Fellowship of the Dig is back for more treasure-hunting shenanigans on Oak Island. As we head into season 8, it’s time to recap what happened in the last run, which began with a poignant tribute to Oak Island elder statesman Dan Blankenship – the cherished mentor to the Lagina brothers who had passed away aged 95. Rick and Marty lamented Dan hadn’t lived long enough to see the Fellowship strike gold, but it gave the team a renewed sense of determination to get the job done.
The Oak Island swamp had huge significance throughout the season, thanks to a recent seismic survey which revealed a vast anomaly deep in its murky depths. Could it be a long-buried ship, perhaps the very vessel used by the builders of the mysterious Money Pit? Close by the anomaly, the team found flat-surfaced rocks aligned in a pattern suggesting a kind of walkway or wharf – perhaps built to allow sailors to carry treasure from the ship to the shoreline.
Adding to the intrigue was the discovery at the tip of the swamp of an oval-shaped body of water circled with stones and completely without vegetation. The team christened it the Eye of the Swamp, and carbon dating of samples from the area suggested human activity there in the 17th Century. The alignment of the Eye of the Swamp, the 'paved wharf' and the centre of the swamp all suggested this was a complex docking area for whoever arrived at the island back then, while the discovery of a charred metal bracket, probably used to bind the timbers of a ship, suggested the ship may have been destroyed by fire – presumably set alight to cover up the arrival of the treasure.
One of the most fascinating theories of the season was presented by naval historian Chipp Reid, who suggested that some of the structures previously uncovered in Smith’s Cove could have been part of a 'water battery', or coastal fortification, perhaps built by French forces station in Nova Scotia in the 17th and 18th Centuries. Reid’s theory is that the Oak Island treasure may have been buried by French officers from the Fortress of Louisbourg, to keep their gold safe ahead of a siege by British colonial troops in 1745. Wood samples from the 'paved wharf' dating to 1741 seemed to bolster this theory, prompting a trip to the Fortress of Louisbourg. Here, Rick Lagina and Doug Crowell were shown the structure’s underground tunnels – including a sophisticated drainage system – which bore an uncanny resemblance to Oak Island’s famous flood tunnels.
But were the treasure-buriers actually Spanish rather than French? This was the competing theory presented by author D’Arcy O’Connor, who pointed to the hundreds of Spanish galleons which vanished while sailing from the New World back to Spain. O’Connor suggested one of the galleons may have been caught up in a storm and swept up to Nova Scotia, where the crew may have chosen to bury their possessions rather than risk being intercepted by the French or English.
Then there was entrepreneur Corjan Mol’s theory that the great 17th Century French painter Nicolas Poussin may have been privy to the secrets of Oak Island. He suggested the existence of a kind of Poussin Code, with clues to the location of the treasure being potentially hidden in some of the paintings. The title of one work, Et in Arcadia ego, was said to be an anagram for Gite Neo Arcadia, meaning “Excursion to New Arcadia”, with Arcadia having been the name given to the Atlantic coast of the New World by early European explorers. According to Mol, another painting by Poussin contains a secret pentagram configuration which, when overlaid on a map of Oak Island, may reveal a map pointing to treasure buried by the Knights Templar.
The season also saw a resurgence of interest in the famous '90 foot stone', which according to legend was uncovered in the original Money Pit and was inscribed with a message declaring the presence of treasure on the island. It turned out that, at Dan Blankenship’s funeral, Rick Lagina had been approached by a fellow claiming the stone was located at Dartmouth Heritage Museum in Nova Scotia. This lead turned out to be a red herring, however – a dig carried out on the museum’s grounds yielded nothing of significance.
Other highlights of the season included a search for early 19th Century dig site 'Shaft 2' (said to have been built just metres from the original Money Pit), and the appearance of Lee Lamb and Richard Restall, of the famous Restall family of Oak Island treasure hunters – a new dig site was named RF1, 'Restall Family 1', in honour of the clan. Plus, an old relic dug up in the swamp was dated to 1200 AD, which recalled the Knights Templar treasure theory.
Now, with season 8, the Fellowship will be going further than ever before. Refusing to be cowed by the coronavirus pandemic, the boys emerge from quarantine to embark on an epic 'big dig' of the swamp, and conduct an ambitious excavation of the old 19th Century searcher shafts. Could the secret of the island finally be on the brink of being discovered?