For more than 200 years, Oak Island off the coast of Mahone Bay has been at the centre of a mystery that has attracted international attention, all because of what is supposedly buried along its shores. Following the discovery of the Money Pit (a massive, man-made pit thought to be the location of buried treasure) in 1795, the mystery of Oak Island has fascinated the world.
On Wednesday evening, the second floor theatre of the Discovery Centre on Barrington Street was full as local author and retired miner John O’Brien described his attempt to understand what’s buried on Oak Island and how it got there. His new book, Oak Island Unearthed, explains his theories and claims to offer evidence to back them up.
“The evidence that they have, the carbon-dating and what not, has totally, almost been ignored. It’s so hard to put the puzzle together,” said O’Brien, who has been interested in the mystery of Oak Island since he was a child.
The Money Pit has been central to the treasure hunt since it was first discovered. An intricate system of rock and lumber, O’Brien explained its composition using a glass of water and a plastic straw. He said that the unearthing of the pit is what allowed the ocean water that had been kept out since its construction to finally flood inside. He also said that this was done to deter any treasure hunters, and that the pit is a distraction from where the treasure is really hidden.
“There was tons of coconut fibres found on both surface and underground…this is the only indication of where these people came from,” said O’Brien. “Coconut fibre don’t come from the Vikings. It don’t come from Europe. It comes from the south.”
O’Brien’s theory on the mystery dates all the way back to the time of the Aztecs, when he says the ancient kingdom was looking for a place to hide precious artifacts from incoming Spanish invaders. He believes that hiding place was Oak Island. O’Brien suggests that the Aztecs had previously discovered the island while searching for a type of blue clay that they highly valued and was easily accessible from the shore.
“There’s no way they’re going to hide it close by… so they picked a place in its history. They had a pigment called Mayan blue. They used it to paint their pyramids, their temples. Anyway, I’m down on Oak Island, being a mining man, and I’m watching the drilling that’s going on there… they kept hitting this blue clay.”
Toward the end of the presentation, an audience member asked why O’Brien was so eager to share the location that he believed to be the site of the treasure.
“Nobody’s ever solved the mystery of Oak Island,” answered O’Brien. “I don’t have the money to get a company to go down there and do that. I just wanted to… put my idea out. I’m not hiding anything. It’s there, that’s where I say it is. Someday if they do some work and it’s there, they’ll say, ‘Hey, that guy was right.’ That’s probably all I’ll get out of it.”
Nowadays, the island is privately owned, and O’Brien says that legal and financial restrictions could restrict any treasure on the island from ever being discovered, if there is even one to find. But he seems confident that there is something worth looking for on the island.
“Nobody would do that much work,” O’Brien said, “to hide marbles.”