• Category: Episodic Recaps
  • Written by Rick Ellis

'The Curse Of Oak Island' Recap: 02/05/2019

At some point, complaining about the slow pace of "The Curse Of Oak Island" becomes a useless exercise. The show is a ratings powerhouse, so apparently, the frequent recaps of events that just took place and drawn-out conversations about discoveries that really aren't discoveries became a feature of the show, not a bug. Viewers seem to be able to tolerate the glacial pace things are revealed on the show, so who am I to judge? The truth is that while I may frequently complain about the amount of time spent on the show now discovering things, I still faithfully watch every week. So apparently I am as big a sucker as anyone else.

For all of the dead-ends and pointless road trips this season, the weird and mysterious discoveries at Smith's Cove had been genuinely baffling. Smith's Cove is believed to be the origination point for the stone box drains that reportedly bring in seawater that was used to booby-trap the so-called money pit. Several expeditions in the past have attempted to dig out the area at low tide or build a dam that could be used to block off the water. None have been successful, although Dan Blankenship's attempt did discover a mysterious U-shaped wooden structure constructed below the water line. An earlier effort by Gilbert Hedden in 1936 reportedly uncovered the remnants of an old slipway some believe might date back to the 1700s.

Rick & Marty Lagina spent the money this season to erect a series of interconnected metal walls designed to keep the tide waters from entering the cove. That would allow the expedition to use construction equipment to uncover anything hidden in Smith's Cove. So far they've found the previously mentioned U-shaped structure as well as a number of other walls and areas that don't seem to fit together in any way that makes sense.

That work continues, but this episode begins with the Lagina Brothers as well as their partner Craig Tester headed to the area where the original Money Pit treasure shaft is believed to be located. Marty strongly believes it is located close to the exploratory shaft they dug last year named "H-8." It was at that location where the team discovered a wide range of artifacts, ranging from pieces of antique pottery and manuscripts to centuries-old bone fragments from at least two individuals. This year's plan begins with clearing out a plug of material from the bottom of the shaft drilled last year. And while Marty and Craig remain at the site to oversee that process, Rick Lagina,  geologist Terry Matheson and archaeologist Laird Niven head to the Smith Cove dig site. 

They continue to uncover evidence of the old slipway, which is both reassuring as well as confusing. The structure is obviously old but was it built by whoever did the original Money Pit construction or by someone after the 1795 discovery of the Money Pit? As more of the structure is revealed, all of the material is taken to a nearby massive wash plant, where Gary Drayton and Jack Begley will use metal detectors to search the dirt and mud for any unnoticed smaller artifacts. But while searching the area near the newly uncovered slipway, Drayton makes his first discovery. It looks to be some sort of wrought-iron crossbow bolt, although its age and exact nature are initially unclear. But the item appears to be similar to an item Drayton discovered earlier on the island, which one expert suggested might date back to Roman times.

Later that afternoon Rick Lagina joins his brother Marty in the War Room, where they have gathered with members of their team to follow-up on the latest data about a recently discovered stone. The slab included strange carvings that seem to be some sort of Runic lettering, which could it date it back to Viking times. The team has brought in Runology expert Dr. Lilla Kopar in an effort to determine if the stone is authentic. But in the end, this is one of those semi-dead end segments you sometimes see on "The Curse Of Oak Island." Dr. Kopar basically explains that while she has seen a few images of the stone, she needs to see more. And the Laginas promise to send them to her.

The next day, Rick Lagina and Craig Tester arrive at the Money Pit site. They're there to check on the progress of efforts to continue excavation of the H-8 shaft. They learn the plug at the bottom of the shaft is gone and the plan is to slowly lift the "can" (which is the big metal tube that has been driven into the ground) back up to about 170 feet below the surface. Then a sonar device will be inserted in the hole, with hopes a chamber may be discovered. The hole is filled with more than 158 feet of water, so a submersible remote vehicle with a sonar device attached is being lowered into the hole.

As the remote vehicle approaches the bottom of the shaft, the sonar shows what seems to be some sort of 90-degree angle. But it's not clear what might be causing the sonar results. But before the team can learn more, the ROV suddenly shuts down and the team is forced to pull it back out of the shaft. Which of course results in some narration discussing how common it is for technology and tools to mysteriously quit working, especially at times when searchers believe they are close to making a discovery. When the ROV is retrieved, it turns out water has leaked into the unit. That will suspend more sonar searching for the day, so the Laginas decide to use a hammer grab tool to try and retrieve material from the bottom of the shaft.

But first, it's back to the War Room. The Laginas and their team hear an updated report from Runology expert Dr. Kopar and she has surprising news. She's done a closer examination of the stone slab with the mysterious carvings and she has some news. Some members of the team suspected the carvings on the stone might be some sort of Runic writing. But Dr. Kopar notes the carvings have a line along the bottom of the writing, but not at the top. And Runic writing would typically have a line both above and below the text. She also wasn't able to identify a single character that resembled Runic writing. While it's not Runic, Dr. Kopar does say that there is a set of scripts in the High Medieval Period referred to as the Gothic Script. She says it looks a bit like an inscription in a version of the script that was used between the 12th and 15th centuries. 

She also mentioned another interesting facet of the script. She pointed out a slightly raised part of the script that looked a bit like a raised circle. According to Dr. Kopar, circles like that don't have any functional purpose. But they were often used for decorative purposes in Medieval architecture. She concludes the stone was created to be decorative. She also suspects that someone created the item to look as it were something else. But since the stone carvings seem to have some age on them, that opens up an entirely new set of questions. Who would have done it? When? And why?

It's another day on Oak Island and Rick Lagina, metal detection expert Gary Drayton and Dan Henskee take detectors to the Money Pit site. They plan to search the area surrounding the money pit again, in hopes of finding another piece of stone containing the mysterious carvings. The area includes a number of similar-looking stones, but they are half-buried and covered in moss. So trying to find a stone with carvings is a challenge. But Gary Drayton does make a discovery with his metal detector. He finds what looks to be an ancient token, which was used in Medieval times in commerce and in the place of a coin. But before Rick has much time to examine it, he receives a call from archaeologist Laird Niven, who has discovered something at Smith's Cove.

When Rick arrives at Smith's Cove, Laird shows him a previously unknown structure that has been partially uncovered. It is a portion of a concrete wall, located at a level which would be at least six feet below the surface of the water that normally fills the cove. There is no record of any previous searchers using concrete in the area and even if they did, how did they pour it underwater? Rick decides they need to bring in engineers to do some research before they uncover more of the wall. But he does note the Romans had a form of concrete that could be poured underwater.

And that's a wrap for another week. The tease for next week shows some possible discoveries at the Money Pit H-8 shaft, including what might be a piece of Medieval parchment. Stay tuned for another interesting, if also a drawn-out hour of exploration.

"The Curse Of Oak Island" airs Tuesdays at 9:00 P.M. ET on History