The Curse of Oak Island breakthrough: Lead cross is pre-15th century and could have Knights Templar connection

Rick Lagina and the lead cross on The Curse of Oak Island
Marty and Rick Lagina after receiving the results of tests on the lead cross. Pic credit: History

SPOILER ALERT! This article contains a full recap of The Curse of Oak Island Season 6 Episode 6, Precious Metal. Don’t read on if you don’t want to know what happened.

On the latest episode of The Curse of Oak Island, Rick and Marty Lagina realize that they may have discovered the most historic thing ever found in North America.

Could the lead cross found by Gary Drayton last year at Smith’s Cove prove the existence of explorers prior to Christopher Columbus?

Scenes filmed in the war room show the team flush with excitement at the prospect of re-writing history.

They are talking via video conference with Tobias Skowronek, a geochemist at the German Mining Museum. They hope he can provide further testing on the cross, shedding new light on the origin of their most mysterious, most significant find to date.

In the past, laser ablation determined that the cross was made of metal not from North America. Could this be evidence of a Knights Templar connection? Tobias tells the team that he will compare their laser ablation isotope data to the data in the museum’s renowned database of metals found throughout the ancient world.

Depending on how good their data is, he may be able to pinpoint a precise quarry. Then again, he may only be able to trace the metal to a country as vast as England. All they can do is wait and wonder.

Tobias Skowronek
Tobias Skowronek reveals his findings about the lead cross. Pic credit: History

As the episode starts, it’s a wickedly wet day on the island as fog, rain and wind conspire to stop construction of the cofferdam at Smith’s Cove. Rick and Marty’s rain gear isn’t helping much as they survey the progress.

They’re informed that dense till is responsible for some of the sections of steel piling standing taller than the rest. This is the area where the legendary lead cross was found last year. Will the team find even more spectacular artifacts once the cove is drained? Or maybe locate an ancient flood tunnel system that prevented previous searchers from uncovering fabled treasures and loot?

For now Rick is very happy with the progress even though the drilling crew must fight against bitingly cold weather to get the job done properly.

Meanwhile Craig Tester and Charles Barkhouse go to the “mega bin” area some 600 feet northeast of the Money Pit site. Today sonic drilling is taking place. The high frequency sounds grind through the earth, with core samples (done every 10 feet) brought to the surface for hand searching.

Seismic testing revealed a large and mysterious void here. Could this correspond to Dan Blankenship’s 1973 latrine pit find? There would be only one reason for a toilet facility in an underground chamber; men working there. At a depth of 100 feet Dan also found an impenetrable metal plate some believe is evidence of a treasure vault.

Craig, Charles, Gary Drayton, and geologist Terry Matheson go through the elongated plastic sleeves filled with soil samples. Will they find evidence of the void indicated by the seismic data? They find an anomaly. But not a good one.

Very dry, sandy till has been found, a sudden change from the dense clay. The loose sand is a troubling find. It is located where the seismic data indicated a void, but now they realize that the seismic anomaly was simply a different type of earth, not a void.

Later, Rick and Dave Blankenship drive 95-year-old Dan to Smith’s Cove where he is blown away at the unrecognizable landscape. He says it looks like a four-lane highway has been put in place and Rick replies it was needed to get the 300-ton crane in place.

Dan has spent more than 50 years trying to solve the Oak Island enigma, and is amazed at the immensity of the crane as well as the scope of the cofferdam. Back in the early 1970s he and partner David Tobias constructed a 15-foot wide cofferdam here and Dan discovered a 65-foot long wooden u-shaped structure.

Before they could determine if it was man-made, violent storms compromised the dam and put an end to the project. It is clear that Rick badly wants to find something significant here, something that would bring success and closure to Dan.

The next day the various operations taking place on the island continue on schedule. In the war room the team has assembled to listen to Judi Rudebusch, a former colleague of Rick’s friend and Knights Templar historian, the late Zena Halpern. It was Zena who gave Rick a 14th century map of Oak Island, possibly made by or connected to the Knights Templar.

Judi Rudebusch
Judi Rudebusch discusses Zena Halpern’s research material. Pic credit: History

Judi has agreed to help go through Zena’s copious research material which she bequeathed to Rick and now resides in a research library on the island. Today she has arranged for the team to talk with Gretchen Cornwall and John Temple. Based in the UK, John is a member of the Knights Templar and author Gretchen has researched Templar history for many years.

Via video conference, the duo explain that they want to discuss a document that was handed down through John’s family, purportedly referencing early 14th century Templar history.

Based on their interpretation of the document, they believe that the Money Pit is Templar in origin. The team wonder how this could be, and Gretchen answers that the Templars were great engineers and would have left a telling marker of any buried artifacts.

Gretchen Cornwall and John Temple
Gretchen Cornwall and John Temple during their video call. Pic credit: History

The duo believe that the megalithic 860-foot boulder formation, known as Nolan’s Cross, is evidence the Templars buried something of significance on the island. Based on a complicated formula, they reveal that they have used the cross’s dimensions to locate the Money Pit!

With one caveat. The actual treasure is laying 36 feet away from the main shaft, so the current search is off target. Marty asks if they are saying the treasure is not in the Money Pit but off to the side somewhere?

They confirm that this is the case. Oops. The only problem with the theory is that the team doesn’t know the exact location of the original shaft. So, while Rick thinks it’s an interesting theory, it’s not one they are able to take into the field. The UK researchers understand, but insist that there is something there. The team thanks them and the call is ended.

A graphic showing the Money Pit
A graphic showing the dimensions of Nolan’s Cross superimposed on the Money Pit, with a chamber off to the side where the treasure could be lying. Pic credit: History

Later that day Craig, Gary and Terry hand search through the spoils of the “mega bin” site. The goal is to hit 98 feet since it was at 100 feet deep in the same area that Dan found the void and impenetrable steel plate.

At 99.5 feet the drill hits something hard and refuses to go any further. Terry is surprised, and thinks this could be it! Is this mysterious obstruction Dan’s metal object, and possibly a protective shield for a treasure vault?

The core sample is examined but unfortunately the contents are revealed to be either bedrock or granite. It’s a disappointing end, with no sign of the massive chamber indicated in the seismic data nor any sign of an underground structure.

What’s next, keep on or move on? Rick arrives and Craig delivers the disappointing news. What the seismic data found was simply a less dense layer of earth, merely sand, not a void or tunnel. Rick is disappointed but concedes, “now we know.” It’s time to move on.

Later that evening the team is back in the war room, with Tobias back on the big screen. Everyone is on pins and needles anxious to hear what he discovered about the lead cross. Will it be disappointing news like earlier in the day?

Tobias informs them that the lead used in the cross cannot be from North America, as the lead isotopes are related to European deposits. That’s the good news. The bad news is that he was not able to match the cross to any quarry within the 15th to 17th centuries.

But wait, there’s more! Astonishingly, Tobias thinks that the cross is pre-15th century which could mean that there is indeed a Templar connection. “Sweet!” exclaims Gary whose metal detector found the cross.

Rick Lagina
Rick Lagina after hearing the new information about the lead cross. Pic credit: History

Tobias goes on to say that data suggests that the Oak Island lead cross was mined from lead deposits more than 600 years ago and the material is very consistent with material in southern France. Rick is stunned.

Four years ago the team traveled to Rennes Le Chateau in southern France where an expert carefully explained his theory that Knights Templar took treasure to Oak Island and buried it there, possibly validating a connection between the island and Templars dating back to the 13th century.

The team is elated by Tobias’s news and Marty exclaims, “A piece of data that supports landing on this island at least,” and Rick promises, “the hunt continues.”

Is the lead cross the most historic thing that’s ever been found in North America? The team has high hopes. If the cross is traced back more than six centuries and a connection is made to Knights Templar in France, then the team is closer than ever to solving a century’s old mystery, making the Smith’s Cove search more urgent than ever.

The Curse of Oak Island airs Tuesday nights at 9/8c. No episode will air next week on Tuesday, December 25, because it is Christmas Day. The show returns with a two-hour special on January 1, 2019. 

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