Of all the finds on History’s The Curse of Oak Island, perhaps none has sparked as much debate as the “lead cross” found during Season Five by detectorist Gary Drayton at Smith’s Cove on the island.
The cross, which has been spuriously linked to the Knights Templar by the show, is of lead construction and has been dated as being pre-columbian, likely French in origin. The existence of the cross has led to speculation of medieval voyage’s to Canada by the Knight’s Templar and even that the cross is a representation of Phoenician Goddess Tanit.
However, new claims made online throw the origin of the cross into supreme doubt and even whether it’s a “cross” in the Christian tradition at all.
Posting at the Curse of Oak Island Facebook Group, Allen Mayes, a fan of the show says that the cross is in fact a simple tie-off cleat from the mast of a ship, not a Christian cross. Mayes, whose claims are given backing by his own experience in the field of archaeology, including at Sutton Hoo and Orkney, claims that the cross would have been tacked to a ship’s mast with a small rope (or presumably string) used around each arm of the cleat to secure the lantern in place. The hole in the cross would have been made with a ships nail, the square shape very familiar to regular viewers of the show.
While the claim may be able to be denied without further evidence, Mayes would seem to have provided just that with the following picture.
Showing a collection of tie-off cleats at a naval museum in Alabama, the examples would appear completely in-line with the cross found on Oak Island.
While questions remains around the provenance of the cross, particularly recent information regarding the origin and date of the lead used, a serious element of doubt would seem to have arisen as to the origin and function of the find.