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 voyages to Canada by the Knight’s Templar and even that the cross is a representation of Phoenician Goddess Tanit.
Recent claims online have suggested however that the cross may not be all it first appears.
Posting at the Curse of Oak Island Facebook Group, Allen Mayes, a fan of the show, has claimed that the cross is, in fact, a simple tie-off cleat from the mast of a ship, not a Christian cross. Mayes, who proclaimed experience in the field of archaeology, including at Sutton Hoo and Orkney, suggested 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.
Mayes would seem to have provided supporting evidnece for the claim with the following picture.
Allegedly 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.
However the story doesn’t quite end there.
While the claim might initially have seemed plausible, it was after Mayes posted a follow-up image of the nails used to affix the “cleat” to the mast that holes began to appear in the story.
After further examination by the group, user Anthony Beecher identified the above image as a composite fake, the right of the above image derived from the image below, an online sale of two Byzantine crosses.
The nails picture above meanwhile was found to come from a hardware store.
While the initial claim would seem to be have been plausible, particularly with the alleged photo evidence, it would seem that the claims are a well-orcastrated hoax. For what purpose, only Alan Mayes knows.
While the exact provenance of the cross has yet to be determined, the possibility of it’s medieval (or even earlier) origins cannot be discounted yet!
With many thanks to Dan Schuler for his invaluable contribution to this article.
Michael East is a writer with a wide variety of eclectic tastes including politics, history, archaeology, professional wrestling and British science-fiction. A former Students' Union President and newspaper editor, he has studied at a variety of institutions and graduated in both history and politics.
He is interested in truth, justice and the unAmerican way. Named as TIME Person of the Year in 2006 and 2011, he is known variously as a rake, a libertine and as the King in the North... if to nobody else but himself.