The Curse of Oak Island recap: Is right-angled object in Money Pit the treasure-filled Chappell vault?

Rick Lagina and right-angled object
Rick Lagina as the team discuss the angular object on The Curse of Oak Island. Pic credit: History

On The Curse of Oak Island this week, the team uncovered what could be evidence of a Roman presence on the island — and a mysterious right-angled object was seen in the Money Pit. Could it be the Chappell Vault?

The episode starts with Marty Lagina and Craig Tester on the island, where in a bold-declaration, Marty proclaims, “I’ve always thought H8 is the Money Pit,” an assertion that Craig Tester seconds.

But when they arrive to the H8 site, mud and granite are all that’s been found so far that day. Is their luck about to change?

Marty believes the Money Pit treasure shaft to be the most important and elusive treasure target on Oak Island. “It’s irrefutable that the most interesting finds in the Money Pit area are from H8, says his brother, and fellow treasure hunter, Rick Lagina.

Last year a massive caisson hit something in this area that could have been the legendary Chappell vault, rumored to be filled with riches, maybe gold, maybe ancient artifacts. But before it could be penetrated the object was pushed farther down into the mud and sediment. Was it the vault?

They can’t know for sure until the dredge is removed. The decision is made to fire up the oscillator so that the steel caisson can break up the plug at the bottom of the Money Pit shaft.

When team members arrive the next day they’re pleased to discover that the muddy plug is out, removed at a depth of 185 feet. Now they can run a sonar scan in the hopes of discovering a cavity, with the ultimate goal of plunging down a three-ton hammer grab tool to remove the rumored treasures waiting to be found.

A remote-operated submersible vehicle, or ROV, is sent down the hole. It features a high-definition camera that allows the team to monitor a live feed of the operation. When Rick arrives on site he wants to know if there are any problems — even though he says he hates to ask! Told that they’re just getting started, he replies hopefully, “Here we go, the hunt is on.”

A large underground anomaly is found almost immediately — could it be the treasure chamber? Rick is hopeful that an a-ha moment is just around the corner when a clear, right-angle object scan shows up on the screen.

Right-angled object
The right-angled object seen on the screen. Pic credit: History

“That’s a dandy there,” someone exclaims. Could this be evidence of a man-made chamber 170 feet underground? It definitely could be as Rick explains that, in nature, the presence of right angles indicate human intervention.

Finally, it’s evidence of what could be the bottom of the Money Pit — possibly the Chappell vault! But before anyone can make a definitive declaration, the screen starts to flicker and the sensational image disappears.

As the sonar scan is lost, the screen operator says, “that’s not good,” and Rick compares the shut down to a massive brain failure.

“Disappointing is not the correct verbiage,” he sighs, describing how the sophisticated equipment failed under not-very-difficult conditions. It’s just another in a long line of untimely equipment failures, and Rick reminds everyone that the island “hides its secrets well.”

For two centuries bizarre equipment failures have been reported at times of major breakthroughs. Is this more of the same? Rick reasons that the enigmatic island is, “almost … a living breathing entity, and refuses to give up its secrets.”

When the equipment is finally pulled to the surface it is filled with water, forcing the team to suspend today’s sonar operation.

Later metal-detection expert Gary Drayton and other team members travel to a nearby site where the flat stone was found, with hopes of finding other similar stones and significant metal objects. Before long Gary is digging up a dirty find, crying, “I thought I found a coin … I did … please be old!”

The coin is declared unusual, with a webbing design unlike any that Gary has seen before. Could it date back to the Roman Empire? Before more speculation can take place, Rick gets a call telling him to get to Smith’s Cove, as a previously undocumented structure has been found and it is quite a surprise: it’s not wood, it’s concrete!

“What in the world is that?” cries Rick arriving on site to see the concrete mass for himself. This has certainly not been recorded before, and Rick observes that the mysterious form could be incredibly old, as in Roman old.

Laird Niven and the concrete in Smith's Cove
Laird Niven and the concrete discovered in Smith’s Cove. Pic credit: History

This latest incredible find at Smith’s Cove was uncovered as the massive excavation continued on the mysterious slipway. Last week, while searching the area for stone box drains, the team found a series of notched wooden beams that could have been used as an ancient slipway.

Evidence of such a configuration is thrilling, but confusing. If the wooden structure was built to haul ships on to shore, what was the reason? In addition to the slipway, a U-shaped and an L-shaped structure have also been unearthed here, evidence of massive man-made efforts within the last 200 years, but to what end?

Gary arrives on the scene and soon his metal detector is beeping in a way that causes him to identify a promising area where he digs by hand. Lifting a dirt-encrusted, long, narrow object from the ground he notes, “this is almost weapon-like, look at that tip.” It’s a significant discovery, with the tip compared to that of the possible crossbow bolt or roman pilum which was found earlier this year.  

The team give Gary’s find a look over, and declare it to be hand-wrought and not modern. Rick doesn’t  know what to make of it and calls for scientific analysis, stating, “I want a definitive answer.”

Also in this episode the team gathered in the war room where they heard from an expert in Runology, a professor who has written extensively about early medieval iconography. She has scrutinized images of the flat stone found near the Money Pit two weeks ago, and has information about the possible Runic symbols carved into it.

The expert confirms that the images are unusual and immensely interesting, and might be an inscription. But the professor needs close-ups of the inscriptions and the stone’s measurements, in order to give a more precise conclusion.

What she can say with certainty is that the images are not Rune characters, deflating the hopeful mood in the war room. In fact, she cannot identify a single character that would be a Rune. But, that doesn’t mean the carvings are insignificant!

The carvings remind the expert of Gothic script from around the 12th to 15th century, a script that was used to inscribe stone and metal. Now it’s time for Rick’s a-ha moment!

He is hopeful because the lead cross is believed to be from around the 1300s. Could there be a connection here?

“At least we know we have a mysterious stone with strange carvings on it,” he states, adding, “it begs further research.”

This week’s discoveries suggest that the Oak Island mystery could date earlier, and be more profound, than anyone could have suspected. Will finds in the Money Pit area and Smith’s Cove turn up treasures and artifacts dating to Roman times?

The Curse of Oak Island airs Tuesday nights at 9/8c.

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