SPOILER ALERT! Don’t read below here if you don’t want to know what happened on The Curse of Oak Island Season 5 Episode 15, Seeing Red.
Just as we thought Season 5 of The Curse of Oak Island was coming to an unfulfilling end, Gary Drayton did it again. Grimsby’s gifted wonder and his trusty metal-detector discovered another incredible find — and this time it was actually treasure!
While the Money Pit area has repeatedly frustrated Rick, Marty and the team over the course of Season 5, first with H-8 and then with the DMT shaft, elsewhere on the island Gary has been pulling discoveries out the bag left, right and center.
Top-pocket finds have abounded, including the mysterious lead cross from earlier in the season, and this episode he came up with a true “bobby-dazzler” — a red gemstone set in an ancient-looking brooch.
We’ve been waiting all season for Gary to do his famous gold dance, but it was MARTY who was dancing after this amazing find.
This week fans were treated to an emotional second episode after the normal one discussing the families who have taken part in the search for treasure on Oak Island for more than 200 years.
But it was the main episode where the real action happened. Here’s the 10 biggest things we learned in Season 5 Episode 15:
1 Mike Huntley is going to go down the DMT shaft
Last week’s episode saw the DMT shaft flood after the team sent a camera down to try and see what the obstruction is that is stopping them from drilling further than 77ft.
The good news is that having the hole fill with water made it feasible for a diver to go down and check it out; to put “eyes and boots” on the ground as Rick would say.
We didn’t see the dive take place this week, although footage of it taking place was shown in the eight-minute preview for the finale which aired after the episode.
On this week’s episode Rick rang Mike Huntley — who dove in the C1 shaft at the start of the season — and asked him if he was up for it. Obviously he was. Which diver worth their salt wouldn’t be? Mike is also a legit member of the team now, and is as excited about getting answers as the rest of them.
His mission next week is to find out exactly what the obstruction is and if they can get it out. The team believe it is likely a steel or cast-iron plate, something which has never previously been reported as being in that location.
Rick told Mike: “Go down, investigate it, determine the width and breadth of it, perhaps get it an understanding of how thick it is. Is there a concavity to it? Basically determine its physical dimensions.”
2 They find part of the u-shaped structure at Smith’s Cove
Back in the 1970s Dan Blankenship and David Tobias built a massive cofferdam around Smith’s Cove to keep the tide at bay while they carried out excavation work.
It was a huge operation, and came with mixed results. They uncovered under the beach a wooden u-shaped structure which Dan believed must have been put there by the original people who carried out works on the island.
But despite the help of geophysical engineer John Wonnacott at the time, they could not get to the bottom of what exactly the structure was.
This episode saw the team head down to the beach while the tide was out to dig a trench with an excavator in a bid to find part of it. They did, just in the nick of time, pulling out a piece of wood with one end cut at 45 degrees showing it was likely part of something manmade.
They wanted it as a sample and sent it away for dating. Rick said: “If that structure comes back 1400, 1500, 1600, then we set ourselves a new task and that is to properly expose the structure and determine its use.” More on this later.
3 Former treasure-hunter Harold Bishop found wood in the Money Pit
After sending away the wood from Smith’s Cove for carbon dating, Rick and Charles Barkhouse headed 50 miles north from Oak Island to the town of Wolfville, Nova Scotia, where they met with the descendants of Harold Bishop — part of treasure-hunter Robert Dunfield’s team from the 1960s.
Harold was the crane and bucket operator during Dunfield’s massive operation to try and recover the so-called Chappell Vault, in which he dug a huge hole at the Money Pit area measuring 100ft wide and 140ft deep.
Dunfield and his team came away empty-handed after the hole flooded, but Bishop’s grandson Troy Coldwell and fellow descendants Kathleen Bishop and Lynn Hiltz showed Rick and Charles an artifact that Harold was believed to have found in the pit.
The object was an intriguing bit of wood — which got a good smell from Rick — featuring two nails and several grooves as well as a rounded edge. A plaque was attached to it reading: “Found by Harold Bishop at Oak Island 1965.”
Rick asked if Harold had ever speculated as to what kind of wood it was, and Lynn said he believed it was possibly part of a ship. Rick said one of the nails was square and if it was shown to be brass or bronze it could well be of the type used to make ships.
The question is, what was it doing in the Money Pit? Rick asked if the family would allow the team to get it tested — to find out the age and species of wood, and put the metal under a scanning electron microscope.
Lynn said: “I think that we’d really want that. I think that he [Harold] would have loved to have known more about it.”
4 Both bits of wood are from the same period as the H-8 bones
There was a quick turnaround on the dating of both bits of wood; the one from Smith’s Cove and the one found by Harold Bishop back in 1965, and they were both revealed to be from the same era as the bones found in the spoils of the H-8 borehole earlier in the season.
Amazingly, the age of one of the pieces of wood almost matched that of the bone with Middle Eastern origins exactly! Craig Tester revealed via video link that the wood from Smith’s Cove was found to date from somewhere between 1684 and 1732, within four years on either side of the estimated dates for the Middle Eastern bone — 1682 to 1736.
The wood found by Harold Bishop wasn’t much different either, dating from 1646 to 1690.
5 They want to build a cofferdam to expose the structure
Fans of The Curse of Oak Island rejoice — this piece of news pretty much sealed the deal for a Season 6!
After finding out the date of the wood from Smith’s Cove, Marty said the team had been left with another “big mystery” as to what the u-shaped structure actually was.
The only way to get to the bottom of it? Build another big cofferdam like Dan Blankenship and David Tobias did back in the 1970s. That would allow the team to expose the structure in its entirety and carry out proper research on it.
To do this would be a massive job, and with winter closing in fast there was nowhere near enough time to do it in time for the end of Season 5.
John Wonnacott said it would be “very valuable” to be able to expose the main wooden log that makes up the structure, as the segment the Laginas got tested was just part of the “south arm”.
Season 6 was then laid up on a plate, as Marty said: “If we have the budget we should have another go at that u-shaped structure and actually unearth it — I don’t think we’ve figured it out.”
He added: “It’s going to take a new cofferdam to do it. And a bigger one. It just means that we’re probably not going to do it this year because we have to recamp and rethink about it.”
6 They find treasure!
Holy shmoly alright! While waiting for the DMT shaft to be prepared for Mike Huntley’s dive, Rick and Gary Drayton headed to Lot 8 to do a bit more metal-detecting after identifying it as an area that could offer some important clues. They weren’t wrong in their analysis.
The first find they made was a button which they thought was probably from a military uniform, and which Gary estimated as being from around 1780 to 1820.
But then came a REALLY big find, and the first that can actually be classed as treasure on Oak Island. Gary described it in his uniquely English way as a “bobby-dazzler”, a British phrase used for something considered remarkable. And remarkable it certainly was.
Initially his metal-detector picked up the rear plate of a decorative but visibly aged brooch, which was found easily when Rick dug out a small hole in the ground. They had a hunch that the rest of the brooch must be in the same area, but couldn’t seem to find it.
They decided to give up, leaving the hole open so they could potentially come back to it with a sifting device. But just as Gary was walking away his metal-detecting device perked up again and the pair couldn’t be more surprised by what they found — a large red gemstone, possibly a ruby, with 11-12 facets and set in metal. Rick said of the find: “We were both aghast.”
They immediately phoned the rest of the team to come and have a look, with Marty commenting on his arrival how Gary was “grinning like a Cheshire cat”. We still didn’t get to see Gary’s famous gold-dance, but Marty was so excited HE performed a little “ruby dance” jig.
Rick said in an interview with producers: “If it’s a ruby, even if it’s a semi-precious stone — this is treasure, as defined by the Treasure Trove License. So, you know, I guess a pat on the back to all of us — we found treasure!”
7 It could have historical value
One of the main theories about what could be buried on Oak Island concerns the jewels of Marie Antoinette, the last Queen of France.
In 1792, facing death by guillotine, she employed one of her servants to smuggle her jewels out of her castle in the hope that she could use them to buy her and her family’s safety. It didn’t work.
She and her husband King Louis XVI were executed in Paris, and her jewels haven’t been seen since. Some believe that her servant boarded a ship to North America, and the valuable items were later buried on Oak Island.
It was this theory that compelled former president Franklin D. Roosevelt to become interested in the Oak Island mystery.
Rick said his mind immediately jumped to the Marie Antoinette theory when he and Gary found the gemstone, but more research needs to be done to find out more about its origins.
8 The gemstone is 500 years old
Gary initially estimated the brooch to date from the 1700s, but he dropped a bombshell on the team in the sneak peek for next weeks’ season finale — revealing the gemstone is 500 years old!
He was filmed during a meeting in the War Room saying: “I took the gem to a gemologist — it’s a 500 year old stone.” If that is accurate, that would date it to the early 1500s — which is OLD.
9 They find something in DMT
The sneak peek for the season finale also showed Mike Huntley finally being lowered down into the DMT shaft, with Rick asking: “What is down there and can we get it out?”
Mike is heard saying via radio from underwater: “It’s kind of wide like a plate.” Then at one point Jack Begley, monitoring the dive, turns round excitedly and says: “We’ve found something Rick!”
10 Treasure makes Dave Blankenship a happy man
The last scene revealed in the sneak peek showed the entire team sitting around the table in the War Room with all their finds from this season laid out in front of them.
Dave Blankenship has been waiting a long time for the team to dig up something “gold and shiny”. But while they may not have found a vast cache of treasure just yet, the haul from Season 5 looked more than impressive and Marty left Dave smiling as he joked: “A lot of this looks spendable, David!”
Marty then called for a celebration as the team were shown high-fiving, before Dan Blankenship had the last word saying: “There IS treasure on Oak Island!”
Next week’s Season 5 finale is followed by the premiere of new treasure-hunting series The Curse of Civil War Gold — see you then!
The Curse of Oak Island airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on History.