Everybody craves some form of escapism from time to time, whether it be deep in a tale of fiction, or a real-life mystery. Indeed, the mystery of Oak Island has become a worldwide phenomenon, that has equally captivated and puzzled historians for centuries. Although it may appear to be a childlike fantasy, Oak Island very much exists as a 140-acre piece of land off the South Coast of Nova Scotia, Canada, that has inspired countless films, books, and TV series. Thus, continuing to be an epicentre of an everlasting mystery that fascinates many across the world.
There is something quite intriguing about a mystery that refuses to be solved. However, to really grapple with the mystery of Oak Island, we must first understand its history. The island was first established by European settlers in the 1700s. In its first form, the island was named ‘Smith Island’ after the early settler, Edward Smith. In the late 18th century, the Island’s name was altered to Gloucester Island, however, this didn’t last long, as by the early 19th century the region became officially known as Oak Island.
According to the legend, (so certainly shouldn’t be taken as fact) the Oak Island Money Pit was discovered in 1795, whilst 16-year-old Daniel McGinnis was on a fishing expedition. Whilst on his trip, he came across an old tree that had peculiar scarring. After numerous attempts from Daniel and his friends to dig deep into the pit, they realised it would take a lot more than a couple of shovels, which only achieved about nine meters.
An incredible nine years later, Daniel and his friends returned to the treasure digging site, however, this time they had financial backing from a local businessman, who was able to fund the help of a local labour force. It was agreed that if any treasure was found it would be split between them all. And yet, to the syndicate’s great surprise, a large stone that was not native to Nova Scotia was discovered at a staggering 27.4 meters. Much to the elation of the group, a message on the stone was eventually deciphered to read: ‘Forty Feet Below Two Million Pounds Are Buried’. This caused great hysteria as the group believed they were about to get their hands on some serious treasure. However, underneath the magical stone lay a simple layer of wood. Racked with disappointment and cut off by nightfall, they called it a day on the dig.
When they arrived the following week, excited to get back to the treasure, they found that the money pit had flooded with water, leaving just ten meters at the surface. Despite numerous attempts to remove the water, they could no longer reach the bottom of the pit, some nearly losing their lives trying. Consequently, utter despair was felt by Smith and the rest of the group, as they felt they had been beaten by Nature. This is a feeling that many archaeologists and historians will have felt over the following centuries, despite their best efforts using the most up-to-date technology.
The Money Pit treasure in question is supposedly the buried money of Captain Kidd. Whilst this is only rumoured, there is documentation to suggest such treasure, written as early as 1856. Theories surrounding Captain Kidd’s treasure include many religious artefacts, and even extend to the jewels of Marie Antoinette and lost manuscripts of Shakespeare. However, such theories have been repeatedly questioned by historians over the years.
Ever since the 18th century, intrigue and fascination with the Oak Island Mystery has not backed down, as more than fifty books have currently been published on the subject, which explore competing theories including a highly popular TV Series on The History Channel. In fact, many notable historical figures have had their share in trying to find the treasure. This includes John Wayne and even Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States. And yet, with such significant intrigue, both in the past and present, we still all crave the answers to the phenomenal unsolved mystery of Oak Island.