Exploring For Treasure

In New England

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Buried treasure is an important part of modern mythology surrounding pirates. According to popular conception, pirates often buried their stolen fortunes in remote places, intending to return for them later.

In reality, the only pirate known to have done this was William Kidd, who is believed to have buried at least some of his wealth on Long Island before sailing into New York. Kidd had originally been commissioned as a privateer for England, but his behaviour had strayed into outright piracy, and he hoped that his treasure could serve as a bargaining chip in negotiations to avoid punishment. His bid was unsuccessful, however, and Kidd was hanged as a pirate.

Buried treasure probably entered the public imagination with the publication of works such as The Gold Bug by Edgar Allan Poe and Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. Poe's work directly focuses on Kidd's treasure, and it is presumed that Stevenson was also thinking of Kidd when he wrote of buried treasure.

However, there are a number of reports of supposed buried pirate treasure that surfaced much earlier than these works, which indicates that at least the meme was around for more than a century before those stories were published. For example, some underground passages and structures on Oak Island (in Nova Scotia) have been excavated extensively since 1795 in the belief that one or more pirate captains had stashed large amounts of loot there. These excavations were said to have been prompted by still older legends of buried pirate treasure in the area. While it is clear that someone went to an extraordinary amount of trouble to bury something there it seems two centuries of excavation have destroyed any hope of determining the veracity of the original claims that pirates were responsible

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