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Expedition Unknown exclusive: Josh Gates unearths what could be Bonnie Charles’ buried Scottish treasure

The moment of discovery as Gates finds something buried in the place where the gold is reported to be.Pic credit: Discovery
The moment of discovery as Gates finds something buried in the place where the gold is reported to be. Pic credit: Discovery

On the next edition of Wednesday’s Expedition Unknown, host and producer Josh Gates heads to the Highlands of Scotland in a quest to find a buried treasure hidden during the Jacobite uprising in the 1700s.

Josh is in the Scottish Highlands searching for the treasure, a reported windfall that is estimated at more than $10 million dollars in gold coins.

The treasure was buried by Prince Charles Stewart — aka “Bonnie Prince Charles” — who allegedly hid the gold off the shores of Loch Ericht. A stone foundation rectangular building (now a ruin) was the secret place they hatched the plan.

The legend has it Bonnie Charles left France and headed back to Scotland to claim the throne of Scotland, England, and Ireland, as the son of James Stuart. He had the reported support of King Louis XV of France, which history revealed fizzled out fast.

Prince Charles did get financial support pledged from Spain in the form of gold coins.

According to historian Ashley Cowie:

In April 1746, Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Jacobite army was massacred at the Battle of Culloden near Inverness and he fled to the Western Isles. Before news of his defeat reached France two frigates, the Bellona and Mars, were loaded with hundreds of casks of brandy, medical supplies, guns and ammunition, and hidden below deck were seven large wooden caskets containing the payroll for Charlie’s Jacobite army and funds for his rebellion – 8 big bags of gold coins amounting to 1’200’000 livres.

On the 10th of May 1746 the Bellona and Mars sailed into Loch nan Umah near Fort William on Scotland’s west coast where they unloaded the stores and treasure. Six caskets of gold were transported about 20 miles overland and buried somewhere near the banks of Loch Arkaig, just north of Fort William.

The secret location of the gold was entrusted to Murray of Broughton, a Jacobite fugitive who was entrusted to distribute the gold to the clan chiefs. But when he was apprehended by government forces the treasure was entrusted first to Lochiel -chief of Clan Cameron, and then to Macpherson of Cluny, head of Clan Macpherson. In September 1746 Prince Charles escaped on the French frigate L’Heureux and Euan Macpherson of Cluny, chief of Clan Macpherson, retained control of the treasure. For the next 8 years Macpherson famously lived in exile in the Scottish highlands at a mysterious location known as Cluny’s Cave, which was featured in Robert Louis Stephenson’s Kidnapped.

In our clip, Josh finds the ruins of what was believed to be the special place where the Prince and his men hid the gold treasure. Gates and his companions followed a series of clues to where it was marked on the map.

Coming across the ruins of a foundation tucked high up above Loch Arkaig, Gates says: “This is not natural… nature doesn’t make rectangles. That’s a foundation. We might be the first people out here it since it was built.”

Using metal detectors, they get a reading and start digging. Josh seems to have found something of importance and is over the moon about what he has in the exclusive clip.

The official logline from Discovery:

Hunting for a lost cache of gold, Josh Gates heads to the Scottish Highlands. His search focuses on a huge gold reserve hidden after the Jacobite Uprising of 1745 and never recovered. Josh joins treasure hunters chasing a new lead across the Highlands.

Tune in Wednesday to find out exactly what they unearth in the Highlands:

Expedition Unknown airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Discovery Channel

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