Everyone loves a good puzzle, and solving the mystery of Oak Island is one of the greatest of our time. Treasure is supposed to be buried on the island, but no one has ever found more than remnants and teases; A coin here, an old shoe there, but no one has ever found the big prize. Or have they?
The Lagina brothers started unraveling the mystery in 1965 and may have just seen their obsession pay off. Join us on the epic journey to unearth Oak Island and see how important their latest find is.
They First Learned About The Curse In 1965
Rick Lagina was going through another ordinary day when he came across an article in Reader's Digest about Oak Island. He was instantly hooked reading about the supposedly cursed island in Novia Scotia, Canada.
The magazine claimed there was a treasure buried deep underground on the island. A treasure that many people had gone crazy and died trying to find. Rick's fascination quickly turned into an obsession. For as long as he had been alive, Rick had dreamed of finding treasure.
A Born Treasure Hunter
Rick was 10-years-old when he went searching for his first treasure. It was one year before he learned about Oak Island. His first hunt involved moving a granite rock he discovered to learn what was hidden underneath. That one was easy, the next one was going to be much harder.
To move the rock, Rick recruited eight friends and Marty, his brother. The group was able to move the rock and were left disappointed by the findings. There wasn't anything unusual or of value. Rick, unlike his friends, didn't care about what was underneath the rock. He fell in love with the chase.
The Mystery Began In 1804
It was 1804 when the Onslow Company came into being. The company was formed to search the island after a young boy found a circular depression on the ground. The original team dug into the depression, cutting through layers of wood and charcoal on the way.
Their efforts were rewarded when they discovered a stone tablet with an odd inscription. For 62 years, no one was able to decipher what the tablet said. Finally, in 1866, a language professor from Halifax University broke the code, revealing an ominous message.
A Curse Is Revealed
The unnamed professor revealed the stone said, "forty feet below, two million pounds lie buried." There was no explanation of whether it was gold, silver, coins, or something else. That's not the scary part, though.
According to the curse of Oak Island, seven people must die before the island gives up its treasure. To date, six people have died and countless explorers have hunted the island, only making minor discoveries. When the island claims its seventh victim will the curse be lifted and the treasure finally be revealed?
New Clues Give Way To A New Theory
During season four of the show, things got really interesting. The Lagina's were gifted a copy of a French map from 1347. The map of the island had locations listed for a hatch, an anchor, and a valve. Suddenly a new theory about the treasure was born; that it came from Africa.
The brothers kept searching, only to uncover more items that led to more theories. They found hex nuts, a washer, scrap metal, and a button. What did it all mean? Well, that's part of the mystery, we guess. Ahead, learn how far Rick is willing to go to finish his mission.
Everyone Has A Theory
There are several theories as to how the treasure ended up at Oak Island. We'll cover two of them here. The first one claims the treasure is Marie Antionette's. In this story she had her maid flee Paris during the French Revolution, hiding half her belongings in London and the other half in Nova Scotia.
The second theory says the treasure belonged to Francis Bacon. Bacon claimed to be the original author of Shakespeare's plays. A pit was built at Oak Island to hide Bacon's original transcripts. In the process, numerous other treasures were buried there. Which theory do you believe?
What Is The Money Pit?
As explorers dug up Oak Island to try and find the treasure, they discovered what has become known as the money pit. When Onslow made it through nearly 90 feet of putty, charcoal, and logs, they found the tablet. But before they could keep digging, the pit filled with water.
The team dug a second hole to drain the cavity, only to have it flood again. Was this a possible booby trap? No breakthrough would be made for another 45 years.
A Small Treasure Is Found
In 1847, the Truro Company began digging at Oak Island. After drilling through the ground, they hit paydirt. They pierced through two chests full of coins and managed to recover three gold links that appeared to be from a chain.
Not surprisingly, the gold went missing. After years of searching for more treasure, the Truro Company gave up, unable to stop the flooding created by the Onslow Company. They may have given up, but new explorers came in droves, some willing to lose their lives to uncover incredible riches never seen before.
Years Pass, Explorers Die, And Intrigue Remains
As the years passed, more and more explorers took to Oak Island to solve the puzzle. The Triton Alliance was formed in the 1970s to provide money and technology for the search. Still, no matter how far the team dug, all they found were small clues like logs with Roman carvings or leather shoes.
For the next 25 years, no one explored the island. Legal rights belonged to the Triton Alliance, who had abandoned their dig and got caught in their own squabbles with each other. In 2005, the property went up for sale, and Robert and Marty Lagina jumped on the chanced to get in on the hunt!
The Lagina Brother Purchase Their Way Back Into The Picture
When 2005 rolled around, a portion of Oak Island went up for sale. The cost was around seven million dollars, money the Lagina brothers happened to have thanks to their lucrative drilling business. The Oak Island Tourism Society urged the Canadian government to step in and buy the land, but they never did.
To make sure they could outbid anyone, they bought a 50 percent stake in Oak Island Tours Incorporated. With the island secure, they had their chance to unearth the truth buried at Oak Island. It didn't take long for them to start making some big discoveries.
The Brothers Had New Technology On Their Side
Finally able to take their crack at Oak Island, the Lagina brothers had one major advantage; 21st-century technology. By taking advantage of tools that weren't available 50 years before, they could scour the whole island in hopes of finding clues.
Using everything at their disposal, the brothers knew they could better explore the flooded money pit. They could also explore the human-made hole dug next to the money pit, called the "Borehole 10-X," which contained a wealth of secrets that previous explorers never knew about. Coming up, the television breakthrough that took their search to the next level.
Television Comes Calling With The Curse Of Oak Island
The Lagina brothers' search was put in the spotlight in 2014 when the History Channel made them the subjects of a documentary television show. The Curse of Oak Island was a massive hit for the network and is still running after more than five seasons on the air.
More importantly, the show added credibility to the treasure hunt and provided Rick and Marty extra funding for their adventure. With so much luck on their side, the brothers were sure to start finding clues right away, but did they?
Workers With Experience Wanted
As soon as the brothers got their wish to dig at Oak Island, they knew they needed help. There was no way the two of them could safely find the treasure themselves. Luckily, Marty had several connections with very experienced drillers and diggers with the machinery and skills they needed.
Marty founded Terra Energy in 1982. It became Michigan's largest operator of gas wells within years. In 1995, he sold the company to open Heritage Winds Energy to help provide renewable energy. Ten years later, he called up his connections with a one-of-a-kind proposal.
Marty Is The Practical Brother
Of the two Lagina brothers, Marty is considered the practical one. Rick is a dreamer and has been ever since he read about the island as a child. The entire operation was his idea. He even pushed to buy into the tour group, convincing Marty to come along for the ride.
Marty, logical as he is, has admitted to being skeptical about what the purpose of the treasure hunt really is. He also knows his brother won't give up until he's solved the mystery or died trying. Next, the brothers make their first discovery!
The First Discovery Is A Doozy
Everyone held their breath at the end of the first season of The Curse of Oak Island as the Lagina's made their first discovery. Using sonar technology, they found a swamp that was shallow enough to explore. Buried in the mud, they found several human-made objects, the most surprising of which was an antique Spanish coin.
After their first discovery, numerous people came out of the woodwork to suggest theories. One person believed the treasure was from King Solomon's Temple. Another claimed to know a secret way to get the treasure, which belonged to Francis Bacon.
Portuguese Carvings Keep The Mystery Strange
Three seasons into the show the Lagina's made their next significant discovery. They brought in new experts to help interpret strange sonar readings and figure out how to drain Borehole 10-X. The new blood paid off, and the results of their findings made the island even more mysterious.
Among the treasures they unearthed were stones with Portuguese carvings, a Roman Sword, and several other unrelated items. The findings served as proof that different cultures had visited Oak Island over the centuries. Still, they weren't any closer to finding the big treasure.
Rick Will Never Lose Faith In His Mission
According to Rick Lagina, "life’s a treasure hunt. We’re all on one, in our own different way, and we happen to be on a real one right now." Rick's goal is apparent by now; he needs to find the treasure buried at Oak Island. It might sound crazy, but it gives him purpose and a reason to smile when he wakes up every morning.
Rick also believes, despite more confusion being added than clarity, that "Every day it feels like we’re turning a page of a really good book. I still believe.” We hope Rick never stops believing. He deserves a happy ending after dreaming about the Island for so long.
The Key To The Lagina's Success Is Their Ability To Listen
The Lagina's have made more progress in solving the mystery of Oak Island than any explorers before them. Charles Barkhouse, a historian on the island, said part of their success could be attributed to an asset others didn't have. Barkhouse said, "they [also have] something that other searchers didn’t have: a willingness to listen.”
Barkhouse believes that previous explorers wanted full control over their expeditions, which made it impossible to make real progress. The Lagina's bring in various experts and listen to every possible solution before picking the one they believe will work best.
A Dangerous Obsession
The curse of the island says that seven people have to die before the treasure is revealed. So far, six people have lost their lives searching for the treasure. Will Rick be the seventh? Blackhouse says, "Putting one’s life at risk to find something that may or may not be buried is extreme.”
Another explorer, Daniel Blankenship, came to the island from Florida 50 years ago and hasn't left since. He, like the Lagina's brothers, has put his life on hold while he waits for the secrets of the island to be revealed. The treasure could be anything, and, "that's what excites people," says Barkhouse.
Is It Just A Wild Good Chase?
In over 220 years, no one has found treasure buried at Oak Island. This forces us to wonder if there was ever treasure to begin with. Is the whole mystery of Oak Island just one big wild goose chase? Barkhouse believes that's a possibility, but adds, "it’s the simple belief that there’s something here."
The Lagina brothers know they may be searching for nothing, but they also see the mystery is greater than just money. They want to be the first ones to solve the puzzle, and they hope to do it without becoming the seventh victim.
A Relic Was Found On The British Holy Island Of Lindisfarne
A group of volunteer archaeologists journeyed to the British Holy Island of Lindisfarne. There, they hoped to learn more about the early Christian roots tied to the isle. They never expected to dig up a relic related to something else altogether.
Made of white and blue glass, what the group of researchers dug up was no larger than a piece of candy. Now, they just had to figure out what the artifact was.
It Was From The Time Of The Vikings
The relic they dug up with made entirely of glass. The piece was a swirl of white and blue, with white glass jutting out at the top. It almost resembled a crown. The glass object was old, dating back to the eighth or ninth century.
If that was the case, then the archeologists had to believe it was from the time of the Vikings, when they first landed on the English island. Their landing is considered to be a significant historical event.
Lindisfarne Was The First Viking Attack
For reference, the British isle of Lindisfarne was once home to a monastery. But, in 793 A.D., the site was invaded by Vikings. This would be the first in many attacks that would ultimately change the region forever.
Because of this, any relics or artifacts found from this period are a huge cause for excitement. Now, it was just a matter of the archaeologists figuring out just what the item was.
King Oswald Was Getting Ready To Establish Northumbria
Lindisfarne is said to be the heart of British Christianity. It all started when the region was split into different kingdoms. One of them was called Northumbria, ruled by King Oswald between 634 A.D. and 642 A.D.
But there was one thing the King was missing in his territory. He sought a bishop to take over the religious matters of Northumbria. Eventually, King Oswald ordered a monk from Ireland who would change everything.
Aiden Was Ordered There To Establish A Monastery
Needing a bishop for his territory, in 635 A.D, King Oswald ordered a monk from Ireland to travel to Northumbria to become his bishop. The monk's name was Aiden, and he traveled from an island southwest of modern-day Scotland called Iona.
Once in Northumbria, Aiden found himself being transported to another island on which he was to establish a monastery. This island was Lindisfarne. At the time, Aiden didn't know that the monastery was about to make a huge impact on the world.
The Island Was Very Useful In Trade
Aiden and few of his fellow monks successfully established a monastery of the British isle of Lindisfarne. And, ultimately, it proved to be very useful for a very specific reason. Because of the island's close proximity to the mainland of Northumbria, specifically the region of Bernicia, the monastery prospered with trade.
Ironically, historians don't consider Aiden to be the most significant monk to frequent the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. That title goes to someone else.
Cuthbert Is Said To Be The Most Significant Monk
A monk called Cuthbert made his way to the island of Lindisfarne during the latter half of the seventh century, entering into the monastery established by Aiden. During his time on the island, Cuthbert started to change the ways of the monks.
Because of his reform, many believe Cuthbert to be the most significant and important monk ever to grace Lindisfarne. In later history, he was even made an esteemed saint.
Cuthbert Wanted To Live A Quiet Life
Because Cuthbert was changing the ways of the other monks, many opposed him. Not wanting his beliefs and teachings to transform into something violent, monk Cuthbert decided to leave Lindisfarne.
He opted to live as a hermit, finding a peaceful life on a nearby island. But the quiet was short-lived. In 685 A.D., the king decided he wanted Cuthbert to become the bishop. From there, the monk became a widely-known public figure.
Cuthbert Was Thought To Be a Holy Man
Cuthbert passed away in 687 A.D. and was laid to rest in one of the churches on Lindisfarne. But something miraculous happened when his body was exhumed a decade later. The bishop's body wasn't decomposed!
The monks took this as a sign of Cuthbert's holiness. Wanting to celebrate the holy man, a shrine was built in Cuthbert's honor. And a cult emerged, all of whom worshiped the late bishop and his teachings. Then, unexplained miracles began happening near the shrine.
Miracles Began To Happen Around The Shrine
Rumors began to spread that unexplained miracles were happening around the shrine of St. Cuthbert. People were very interested, and as a result, the island of Lindisfarne became a site for many religious beings, with the monastery becoming an important location for education.
Even The Lindisfarne Gospels, a manuscript, was made in the monastery, medieval art that is considered to be a masterpiece in this day and age. But the prosperity of the island didn't last.
Most Of The Landmarks Are Lost
During the summer of 783, Vikings landed on Lindisfarne. This was the first attack on a Western European territory. And, according to historians, it was a good first assault location because it was so well-known by the general public of Western Europe.
But the attack would change the course of Lindisfarne's history. And, unfortunately, most of the structures were lost in time. Insert the team at DigVentures, who discovered the piece of glass in 2019.
DigVentures Is A Crowdfunded Organization
DigVentures is a non-profit organization funded totally on donations from the public. Their goal is to organize "archaeological excavation experiences." And the team has found numerous artifacts of the island, including pins, graves, jewelry, sculptures, and even ruins of buildings.
But it was in 2019 that they discovered something else entirely. One of the women on site found a piece of decorative glass in the ground. Now, it was a matter of figuring out what it was.
The Artifact Was A Game Piece
While the artifact looks like a jewel of some kind, at first glance, it's actually something else entirely. The relic was, in fact, a game piece used by the Vikings in a board game called hnefatafl, or "King's Table."
The game is still popular in modern Nordic regions of the world. To some, it might look like a fancy game of chess. But, in reality, the game is a simulation of a Viking invasion.
The Pieces Were Used For More Than A Game
Unfortunately, no one is entirely sure where the game originated. It could have come from the Nordic regions, or the Vikings could have adopted the game after one of their many invasions.
But, there is one thing historians have concluded. The pieces used for the game are quite spectacular, as seen by the glass piece found at Lindisfarne. So, it's safe to assume they were used for something other than a board game.
The Game Pieces Were Significant
Since the pieces were so elaborate, some believe they were involved in Viking boat burials. It's possible the Vikings believed the game played an important role in the afterlife, or that the pieces would just be useful to them.
But the pieces also showed a person's social standing. The more elaborate the game pieces, the more appealing, and perhaps wealthy, the owner of the game board looked to other people.
The Game Piece Was More Than It Appeared
So, for the people of DigVentures, the glass game piece was a huge find! Although they realized it might not have actually belonged to a Viking, it might have instead been the property of an affluent monk who lived on the island at the time.
This would be extraordinary because it would show part of the Nordic culture in Britain before the Vikings ever invaded Lindisfarne. If that was the case, it would give the researchers a glance into pre-Viking Lindisfarne.
The Dating Of The Game Piece Is Everything
Regardless of the glass game piece's previous owner, the hnefatafl piece is an extremely rare find. The leader of the DigVenture group, Dr. David Petts, believes the piece dates back to the eighth or ninth century, around the time of the Viking invasion.
The timing is everything, as it would show how far the Nordic culture had traveled before any of the Western European territories were invaded. The piece was a huge find!
It Unraveled Previous Thoughts Of Medieval Christianity
But if the piece belongs to a monk and not a Viking, Petts believes it would also unravel some of the previous misconceptions people have about Christianity during the medieval times, a religion some thought brought a difficult life to those living away from civilization.
During an interview, Petts explained, "We often tend to think of early medieval Christianity, especially on islands, as terribly austere; that they were all living a brutal, hard life."
The Monks Might Have Actually Had An Elitist Life On The Island
Now, Petts and his team had to question everything they thought they knew about medieval Christianity solely because of a glass piece one woman found in the Earth. Instead of the monks living difficult lives on the island, the intricate and colorful game piece suggests otherwise.
Petts said, "The sheer quality of this piece suggests this isn't any old gaming set. Someone on the island is living an elite lifestyle."
Historians Were Getting A Look Into Life On The Island
It was extraordinary how such a tiny piece of glass could give historians a detailed glimpse into how people lived on the Holy Island so long ago. Considering they typically found nothing more than old and weathered tombstones and crumbled ruins, it was a welcome find!
During an interview, Petts said, "We are starting to get an insight into the actual lives of the people who were in the monastery, rather than just their cemeteries and their afterlives."