The Curse of Oak Island: Drilling Down
Season 4, Episode 1: The Puzzle Takes Shape
This episode of The Curse of Oak Island: Drilling Down serves as a follow-up to the Season 5 finale of The Curse of Oak Island.
Host Matty Blake meets with Rick and Marty Lagina in the War Room, where a number of interesting artifacts are out on display. Marty explains that these artifacts constitute a portion of the discoveries made on Oak Island that season, the total number of artifacts being over six hundred.
First, our attention is directed towards the rhodolite garnet discovered in Season 5, Episode 16. Marty affirms that a certain gemologist estimated the artifact to be “four to five hundred years old”. He also remarks that although the gemstone is not particularly valuable, it constitutes the first piece of real treasure found on Oak Island.
Next, the three men examine a British coin found on the island. This particular coin is dated 1694, and bears the image of King Charles II. The Lagina brothers claim that this find is remarkable because it indicates that “Europeans were clearly on this island 100 years before the Money Pit was discovered… They had no reason to be on such an unimportant, nonstrategic, nondescript island.”
Our attention is then directed towards the fragments of human bone discovered at depth in the Money Pit in Season 5, Episode 5. We are reminded that one of these bones, found at a depth of 160 feet and determined to be of European extraction, was carbon dated from 1678-1764. No mention is made of the other bone believed to be of Mesopotamian origin, although we are shown eight other fragments of bone-like material which Marty claims have “yet to be tested”.
Next, Blake asks the brothers about a pile of leather scraps which came out of H8. Although only one of these scraps was showcased in the show, fifteen are on display in the War Room. Marty explains that analysis revealed these scraps to constitute “the leather covering of an ancient book”. Rick then opines that this discovery, coupled with the discovery of a parchment scrap in the same load, is evidence that the Money Pit’s treasure is comprised of documents and manuscripts of historic significance as opposed to temporal wealth.
Marty then asks Blake to consider all the artifacts on display and pick out the single item that doesn’t belong. After some deliberation, Black singles out the mysterious lead cross discovered in Season 5, Episode 10.
“Bingo,” says Marty. “[It’s] crazily out of position. For all intents and purposes, or as best we know right now, that’s medieval. It’s pre-13th Century.” Rick then reminds us that the cross bears a remarkable resemblance to an image carved into the walls of Domme Prison, where members of the Knights Templar were incarcerated following the dissolution of their Order.
After Blake attempts to convince a skeptical Marty that the lead cross is proof that the Knights Templar are behind the Oak Island mystery, Marty contextualizes the anomalous artifact thus: “There’s a lot of data that seems to point to the 1600s at this point, and then there’s [the lead cross]”. Blake then proposes that the Knights Templar buried manuscripts on Oak Island, and 17th Century treasure hunters attempted to recover these manuscripts. After conceding that the evidence appears to indicate that Oak Island played host to “two significant visitations… one very ancient… and one just 400 years old,” Marty remarks that he is reticent to “take outlandish positions” before the lead cross has been sufficiently analyzed.
Following this debate, Marty concludes that despite his historic skepticism regarding the Oak Island mystery, he is now convinced that something significant indeed took place on Oak Island at least a century prior to the discovery of the Money Pit in 1795.
Next, we are transported to Smith’s Cove, where Matty Blake interviews Rick Lagina, Alex Lagina, and Gary Drayton.
Upon being prompted by Blake, Drayton points out the location at which he discovered the lead cross. He then suggests that this discovery was made possible by erosion resultant of the severe storms which buffeted Oak Island in the winter and spring of 2017, and by the recent excavations conducted at Smith’s Cove. “I think the cross was brought up from wherever it settled down,” he concludes.
Although Drayton is somewhat tight-lipped on the subject, Rick remarks that Drayton’s initial reaction upon finding the lead cross was that it was a discovery that he would sooner expect to make in England. Blake then asks three men whether the cross will rewrite North American history if it proves to truly be of medieval origin. Alex Lagina remarks that it has the potential to do this, but cannot do so on its own.
The three treasure hunters conclude that the discovery of the lead cross necessitates additional excavation operations on Smith’s Cove.
Next, Matty Blake informs us that the treasure hunters made a physically massive find that season, but that the find was never showcased on the show. We are then transported to the Money Pit area, where Marty Lagina leads Blake to a shallow fenced-off pit, at the bottom of which lies an intact segment of wooden cribbing from an old searcher shaft. Marty suggests that this shaft was sunk in the early 19th Century, thereby inadvertently suggesting that the cribbing was probably constructed the Onslow Company. Blake accepts Marty’s offer to ride to the bottom of the bit in a backhoe bucket. At Marty’s suggestion, Blake subsequently examines the cribbing and learns that the structure’s constructors has waterproofed the shaft with “perfectly-worked clay”.
Next, Matty Blake meets with Rick and Marty Lagina, Dave Blankenship, and Charles Barkhouse at the Money Pit area, which is now absent of the oscillator and the hammergrab. After some prompting by Blake, the treasure hunters affirm that the Geotech Grid was a success which yielded a handful of objects almost certainly belonging to the original depositors. Marty claims that these discoveries led him to believe that H8 is the location of the original Money Pit. Rick then explains that the implication of these discoveries necessitates a more thorough investigation of H8, which will require the importation of expensive heavy-duty equipment.
Next, Blake meets with Craig Tester, Jack Begley, and Laird Niven. We are reminded that Niven is the one who immediately recognized the bone fragments for what they were, and the treasure hunters briefly discuss the mystery of Samuel Ball.
After that, Blake meets with Jack Begley and Alex Lagina. Upon being prompted by Blake, Begley states that his belief in the Money Pit legend was bolstered by the discoveries he made while sifting through the spoils of H8. Lagina then affirms that the discoveries made this season “make it harder for [him] to be a skeptic.”
Blake then asks the two men what advice they would give to their fathers regarding the Oak Island quest. Alex Lagina maintains that he would advise his father, Marty, to occasionally “suspend disbelief”, and would caution his uncle Rick to avoid falling into obsession. Begley, who suddenly and unexpectedly lost his step-brother, Drake Tester, the previous year, claims that he would encourage his grieving step-father, Craig Tester, to “stay strong” and continue the quest. Talk then turns to the late Drake Tester. An emotional Begley states that bonding with his family was more important to Drake than the Oak Island mystery, evoking the message that Drake wrote on GAL1 caisson in 2016: “Forever Family”.
Next, Jack Begley gives Matty Blake a lesson in sifting through spoils from the Money Pit area- an exercise which occupied much of Begley’s time the previous season, and which resulted in the discovery of many of the season’s most intriguing artifacts. While sifting through some spoils from J8- which Begley describes as “the closest hole which passes by H8 at depth”- Blake discovers several splinters of wood, as well as a small piece of charcoal (charcoal likely being a relic of the original Money Pit depositors).
Next, Matty Blake meets with author Kathleen McGowan, whom he describes as an expert on the Knights Templar theory. The two get in a golf cart and drive to the Oak Island swamp, where McGowan suggests that the swamp’s triangular shape might be a connection to the triangular Delta of Enoch- a legendary artifact which some associate with the Knights Templar. She further opines that the Oak Island treasure is really buried at the western end of the Oak Island swamp, at a location prescribed by writer Alan Butler in Season 2, Episode 7. McGowan reminds us that, after conducting ground-penetrating radar over the site prescribed by Butler, the Oak Island crew discovered indications of a “tomb-shaped” anomaly. McGowan further states her belief that although Oak Island’s treasure lies at this location, the gateway to this treasure is an underground passageway which begins at the Money Pit.
Blake and McGowan then head to the Money Pit area, where the latter describes similarities between the nine layers of oak logs in the original Money Pit and the supposed design of the First Temple of Solomon. McGowan then opines that the Money Pit contains decoy treasures designed to satisfy the greed of treasure hunters, and claims that the true treasure can be accessed by a hidden tunnel further below.
Finally, Blake meets with the whole Oak Island crew in the War Room. After discussing their impressions of the past season, the crew members discuss their next course of action. Rick Lagina suggests that they ought to re-explore the swamp. Craig Tester suggests that they construct a “freeze ring” in the Money Pit area so that they might excavate without having to contend with the flood water- an expensive operation which Oak Island treasure hunters have considered for years, yet have never employed. The treasure hunters ultimately agree that more consideration is needed before a decision can be made.
The Enochean Chamber Theory
In this episode, writer Kathleen McGowan explains the Enochean Chamber theory- an idea which was first introduced in Season 2, Episode 7: The Trail of the Templars.
Back in S2/E7, Rick and Marty Lagina, Alex Lagina, Dave Blankenship, and Charles Barkhouse met with Kathleen McGowan and Alan Butler to the town of Saltcoats on the west coast of Scotland. After the group toured Kilwinning Abbey, McGowan and Butler outlined their own Oak Island theory.
According to this theory, outlawed Templar Knights, following the suppression of their Order, fled to Scotland with the legendary Templar treasure and allied themselves with Scottish Tironensian monks. The Tironensians, who were celebrated stonemasons, hid the Templar treasure in the chapels they constructed. Then, in 1398, Scottish nobleman Henry Sinclair- the grandson of the man who commissioned one of these Tironensian chapels (specifically Rosslyn Chapel)- brought the Templar treasure across the Atlantic to Oak Island, where he and a crew of Tironensians buried it.
After outlining this theory, Butler suggested that Oak Island’s true treasure is located 996 feet due west of the Money Pit, on a spot on the west end of the swamp. He explained his reasoning by stating that the dimensions of the Money Pit led him to believe that the unit of measurement used by the Money Pit builders was the hypothetical “megalithic yard” (2.72 feet or 0.83 metres), which some fringe researchers believe was employed in the construction of ancient megalithic structures like Stonehenge, Avebury, and the Callanish Stones. Butler believed that this unit of measurement was adopted by Tironensians, who used it in their own buildings, as well as on Oak Island. As Rosslyn Chapel is connected to nearby Rosslyn Castle by a tunnel measuring 336 megalithic yards in length, Butler believed that the Money Pit is connected to the real treasure site- a 10’x10’ chamber- by a 996-foot-long subterranean passageway. He dubbed the location of the real treasure the “Enochean Vault” in accordance with his belief that it symbolically paralleled the chamber beneath Mount Moriah which contained the Delta of Enoch (for more information on the Delta of Enoch, please check out The Royal Arch of Enoch in our analysis of Season 5, Episode 14).
In Season 2, Episode 8, the Oak Island crew conducted a GPR scan of the location of the hypothetical Enochean Chamber. The device they used made two positive readings indicating the presence of some sort of underground anomaly precisely in the Enochean Chamber area. Unfortunately, further analysis indicated that this anomaly was not a 10’x10’ underground chamber in congruence with Butler and McGowan’s theory. Marty Lagina remarked that this inconclusive data was “probably the worst thing that could have happened” to the Oak Island team, and later stated his desire to “put an X” through the swamp. Rick, on the other hand, affirmed his desire to continue operations in the swamp.
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