With season seven of The Curse of Oak Island about to hit our screens, fans will be bracing themselves for more revelations as Rick and Marty Lagina continue their quest to unearth the potential riches buried deep within the Nova Scotia island.
The brothers are following in the footsteps of other treasure hunters – including their mentor Dan Blankenship, who sadly died last year – drawn to the island by the legend of the treasure. The folklore dates back to the late 18th Century, when locals first started digging what’s now known as the 'Money Pit', at the spot where treasure may have been buried long ago by persons unknown.
Finding the location of this Money Pit is of crucial importance. Attention has also focused on Smith’s Cove, a local bay believed to be connected to the Money Pit via secret flood tunnels.
If you’re new to the show, or just need a recap, you can read our summary of seasons one to five. Right here, we’ll be looking into the latest run, season six, and considering some of the theories about the fabled treasure of Oak Island.
Season six begins with the 'Fellowship of the Dig' (aka the Laginas and their team) building a cofferdam in Smith’s Cove – a structure which lets them excavate without worrying about the tide. They eventually uncover a wooden U-shaped structure which may well be the remains of an early cofferdam erected by the people who deposited the treasure.
Elsewhere on the island, the crew discover a jewelled brooch, similar to a red rhodolite gem they found in season five. This new find is analysed by a master goldsmith, who reveals the 'jewel' is actually coloured glass which could be over 500 years old. The presence of the brooch and the rhodolite gem touches on the tantalising idea that the treasure of Oak Island could be Marie Antoinette’s jewels. According to this theory, one of the doomed queen’s maids smuggled the jewels out during the French Revolution and made it all the way to Nova Scotia.
Another exciting discovery is an apparent crossbow bolt, which may indicate the one-time presence of Turcopoles, mounted archers who accompanied Knights Templar into battle. This discovery once again raises the popular question of whether the Oak Island treasure was actually deposited by Templars who had fled the brutal oppression of the order in Europe.
One proponent of the Templar theory was researcher Zena Halpern, whose death at the age of 88 is announced in season six. On visiting Zena’s home, Rick Lagina is shown the piles of research she compiled over the years, including the intriguing 'Cremona Document'. This is a collection of medieval journal entries relating to a Templar named Ralph de Sudeley, who allegedly crossed the Atlantic to North America in the 12th Century, perhaps bringing priceless artefacts with him to Oak Island.
However, analysis of the Templar/Turcopole 'crossbow bolt' by an antiques expert puts a different spin on things, as the expert believes it’s actually the tip of a pilum – a type of javelin used by soldiers in Ancient Rome. This is a reminder of a particularly outlandish hypothesis brought up earlier in the series, which is that the treasure may be Roman in origin.
Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin dispatched patriots to find the hidden riches in the name of the American Revolution
The Templar connection still takes precedence, though. The Oak Island gang are introduced to another researcher, Gretchen Cornwall, who believes a local landmark known as Nolan’s Cross is connected to the Templar presence on the island. Nolan’s Cross is a configuration of granite boulders arranged in the shape of a Latin cross, and the theory is that its specific dimensions serve as a key to where the treasure is located within the Money Pit. The problem is, the exact location of the Money Pit is still unknown, so the usefulness of Nolan’s Cross can’t be tested.
One of the key finds of season six relates to the '90-foot stone'. This was a relic uncovered in the original Money Pit, purportedly bearing the inscribed message 'Forty Feet Below, Two Million Pounds Are Buried'. The stone’s last known location was the basement of a building in Halifax, and a fresh search uncovers an object which might just be the relic. However, it lacks the inscription, and only seems to be carved with the letters L and N.
According to an article dating back to 1909, the 90-foot stone had been used as a tool in a book binder’s workshop after being dug out of the Money Pit, meaning the inscription could have been worn away. But what of the L and N carvings? Were they chiselled into the stone in more recent decades, after the original inscription had vanished? Or was there no such inscription in the first place?
Another layer of intrigue is added by astrophysicist Travis Taylor, who believes Freemasons buried the treasure on Oak Island. He uses a Masonic illustration, known as a tracing board, to overlay a star map onto Oak Island. He believes the points on this Masonic star map correspond to points of interest on the island, and this provides yet another lead for the Fellowship of the Dig.
Then there’s the discovery, near the Money Pit area, of a stone which seems to display old carvings. A speculative link is made with the Yarmouth Runic Stone, a slab on display at the Yarmouth County Museum which is inscribed with what some believe to be Viking runes. Mention is made of Leif Erikson, the Viking explorer who explored North America long before Columbus. While expert analysis goes on to prove the markings on the Oak Island stone are NOT runes, the idea that Vikings could have walked on Oak Island is a tantalizing one.
A few other juicy theories are proposed. One, by historian James McQuiston, involves the Knights Baronets of Nova Scotia, a chivalric order established by King James I. The idea was to sell membership of this order in order to fund a Scottish colony: “New Scotland”, or Nova Scotia. According to McQuiston, members of this Scottish order may well have deposited the Oak Island treasure.
A competing theory is that the fabled treasure is linked to the Duc D’Anville expedition – a doomed attempt in by the French, in 1746, to retake mainland Novia Scotia from the British. According to a ship’s log found in historical archives in Halifax, French sailors who sailed in advance of this expedition buried a treasure on a local island – perhaps Oak Island?
Oak Island researcher Cort Lindahl believes there’s merit to the theory, even suggesting that news of the French treasure got to Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, who dispatched patriots to find the hidden riches in the name of the American Revolution. Lindahl points to the Evans Stone, an Oak Island landmark which seems to bear the image of a pine tree, recalling the tree-emblazoned 'Appeal to Heaven' battle flag used during the Revolution.
All in all, there are plenty of possibilities left to explore in season seven, as the Fellowship of the Dig resolve to carry on searching for the original Money Pit and perhaps – just perhaps – find that ever-elusive treasure.