Locating the Inscribed stone

Have you seen in Nova Scotia a stone cut in a rough square formed shape, about 2 x 2 feet (60 x 60 cm) in size and 1 feet (30 cm) thick, with symbols cut deep and rough on one of the largest sides of the stone? It is likely the symbols look like those depicted above. Or have you seen fragments of a stone with symbols? The stone could have other measurements than those described above, and the initials “JM” could be carved into the stone as well. 

If so, then you might have located the Oak Island inscribed stone, found in the Money Pit on Oak Island in 1803. It has been gone for about a hundred years. If you have any knowledge of the whereabouts of this stone, or information pertaining to the stone, then we would love to hear from you.

Email us at; inscribedstone@gmail.com

It is our hope that such information can be entered into the historical record of the province. Proof that the stone existed would be of paramount importance to the story of Oak Island. The province will not confiscate the stone but they would like to investigate and photograph it, and so do we. The following is what the authorities told us when we asked if they would confiscate the inscribed stone if it was found;

“As for your enquiry regarding the search for the stone, it’s my understanding that the stone would have been found prior to the Special Places Protection Act (1989) and its predecessor the Historical Objects Protection Act (1970). As long as the search for the stone does not involve excavation I do not see a legal issue with looking for information about it’s possible current location and who if anyone might have it in their possession. If it was found we would certainly be interested in seeing the object given its historical significance”.

We are a group of Oak Island experts and other enthusiast that has initiated a collective search project trying to locate this stone. We are in communication with the Oak Island owners and the archaeological department of the province. We share all information with them. Active researchers today that has asked for credit on this website are; Daniel Ronnstam, Chaisson Greg, George Johnston, Holly Mcfadyen, Joleen Greenland and more.

The symbols used for the replica stone located in the Oak Island museum, come from a letter sent by a Mr. Kempton in 1949. Kempton say he got the symbols from an old school teacher in the town of Mahone Bay around 1919. The school teacher’s letter is attached, and it describes the top section of the Money pit in more detail than any other source from the perspective of an on-site worker.

I have discovered that the sequence of 40 symbols in the Kempton letter is beyond reasonable doubt an intended dual cipher, hiding two messages with two different methods of decryption. This is a very advanced cipher construction that is very hard to create. Visit the page The Dual Cipher on this website for a full analysis and decryption of these symbols.

The inscribed stone is very important for the Oak Island historical project from an archaeological point of view, and there are many letters, articles and prospectuses from the 19th century that mention it (see below). It is very probable such stone did in fact exist and likely still do exist. It needs to be found as it is an important object for Nova Scotia heritage.

What are we looking for?

The inscribed stone we are looking for should be robust and produced from very hard stone. Some early sources say it was made of a stone type not locally present and very dense. If it has the dimensions 2 x 2 x 1 feet which McCully describe in his 1862 letter (see below), then it must weight around 440 to 880 lb (200 to 400 kg). It is very difficult to move and do not break easily.

If such stone is in a private collection, then I don’t see a motive for keeping such possession secret. The government will not confiscate it, and if the owner doesn’t like attention he could easily contact us or the Nova Scotia Museum saying he is in possession of the stone but would like to remain anonymous. Any investigator from our group or the province would respect such request. If we were allowed to photograph the stone and maybe have a geologist investigate it for its authenticity, we would be satisfied. But the stone should of course be exhibited if possible, preferably at the Oak Island museum on Oak Island.

But I do not believe the stone is in a private and secret collection. I think the reason for its disappearance is simple. It is forgotten about. Someone stored it somewhere and then this someone died or just moved and sold the house without telling anyone about the stone. During the 19th century people had a very different attitude towards historic artefacts. If placed in a shed or a cellar, upside down or with stuff on top of it then the symbols would not be visible. Such heavy piece of rock would not be moved without a very good reason. If selling the house without being aware of the stones significance, then why move the stone? When people sold houses during the 19th and early 20th century they seldom emptied all of the stuff from cellars, sheds and barns for the new owners. Buyers bought stuff in such places included in the price.

It is very unlikely the stone is destroyed. If moved, they would need to use a lot of men, a horse or a car to drag it up on a wagon of sort. If falling down from the wagon onto hard ground, then it is unlikely such heavy piece would break. But if it does then most likely in a few pieces only, which would then be transported together. In order to destroy the stone so that no symbols could be seen on any fragment, you would need to drop it from a height or dynamite it. You don’t do that unless you intend to destroy it, and there is no motive for such behaviour.

Leads to follow in the search project

Our collective research project is working on several leads; we are actively searching for a house on the South Shore of Nova Scotia, which supposedly has a stone with symbols looking like the sequence from the Kempton letter seen above, built into its foundation. The symbols are only viewable if crawling in under the house. This information was given to an Oak Island expert four years ago. Unfortunately the informer’s identity and contact information could not be obtained, but the circumstances around this information makes it very believable the informer told something he was convinced of.

We are also interested in Jothan Blanchard McCully (some census records list him as Jotham, but his birth record is clearly spelled with an “n”). Born 19th January 1819 in Truro, died 9 September 1899 in Truro. He is thought to be buried in Robie Street Cemetery, in Truro. He had 10 children (contributed by Joleen Greenland). McCully worked at the Oak Island excavations during the 19th century. He became a Freemason after his work on Oak Island and also worked at a train station. He supposedly took the inscribed stone to his house in Truro in mid-19th century. We would like to contact the relatives of this person, and talk to the present owners of houses in which his relatives lived. Today, McCully is someones great grandfather just four generations away.

Another lead is to find and contact the relatives of the owners of a navigational bookstore named Creighton and Marshall, which was located at 64 upper water street in Ordnance square, Halifax. The store was in existence at least between 1888 and 1919. This store supposedly exhibited the inscribed stone (or the wrong stone, see below) in its front window for some time before the stone disappeared around 1919. The house in which the store was located is now gone and a new house have been erected in its place. Harry W Marshall, the son of the owner of this bookstore, wrote a letter to the Oak Island owners in 1935 where he describes how the inscribed stone came to his father’s store (see below). This search project should therefore also try to locate the relatives of Harry W Marshall, and of course also talk to present owners of houses connected to these families.

If you have information, please contact us at; inscribedstone@gmail.com


Join the search

If you would like to participate in the search effort, please join our Facebook group: Locating the Oak Island Inscribed stoneWe would like genealogists and historic researchers to join our quest, as well as any person with interest in Nova Scotian history.


Historic material mentioning an inscribed stone from Oak Island

I copied the below text from expert Oak Island researcher Paul Wroclawski’s website oakislandtheories.com before it disappeared. Unfortunately Paul isn’t with us anymore, but his research will live on. I have checked many of these sources myself and they are indeed very interesting. There are more sources which I would be glad if someone could update me with. I don’t have them all;

Halifax Sun and Advisor dated 2 July 1862

This paper contains the first mention of the inscribed stone. The author was J.B. McCully who drafted the letter on 2 June 1862. While offering information which described conditions as supposedly found during the 1805 excavation, McCully mentions the following:

“Some of them [layers] were charcoal, some putty, and one at 80 feet was a stone cut square, two feet long and about a foot thick, with several characters cut on it”.


A letter by George Cooke to John Hunter-Duvar, replying to the letter of 2 Jan 1864, dated 27 Jan 1864

“Our making inquiries since receipt of your letter, I find that the chimney has been boxed around by a wooden partition, and that a flight of stairs back up near where the stone is inserted. I was not aware of this before. This may prevent the stone being got at without trouble”.

George also discusses deciphering the stone and it is very important to the Oak Island Association. George concluded the letter with the following:

“At the time I saw the stone, I noticed that there were some rudely cut letters, figures, or characters upon it. I cannot recollect which, but they appear as if they had been scraped out by a blunt instrument rather than cut by a sharp one.”.

George also provides testimony from John Smith about the stone’s discovery. Smith merely saw the stone come from below ground with Smith implying he was not present below ground on that day. After the date from the above letter, the exact chain of custody for this inscribed stone is clouded.

James DeMille’s book “The Treasures of the Sea” 1872

DeMille is a summer resident of Chester Basin during the later 1860s, he lived on Oak Island for a summer, and possessed firsthand knowledge of the underground workings through his own observations. In October, 1865, James DeMille, M.A. was added to replace McCulloch who had died in March, 1865, and James Leichti was added as tutor in Modern Languages. DeMille remained until his death in 1880 and Leichti until 1901. In his book, DeMille is kind enough to note the stone was already removed from the fireplace when he arrived on the island. DeMille also mentioned that up until this point, no person was able to decode the stone.

Undated letter by William Blair (private collection)

“Jefferson W. McDonald, who first mentioned Oak Island to me in 1893, worked there under George Mitchell. Mr. McDonald, who was a carpenter by trade, also told of taking down a partition in Smith’s house, in order that he with others might examine the characters cut on the stone used in the jamb of a fire place in the house. The characters were there all right, but no person present could decipher them.”.

George Mitchell was the superintendant of works for the Oak Island Association, formed 3 April 1861 and ceased before 29 March 1865. RV Harris wrote;

“About 1865-1866 the stone was removed and taken to Halifax. Among those who worked to remove the stone was one Jefferson W. MacDonald.”.


1893 Prospectus – Oak Island Treasure Company

This is the first instance in print to mention a translation of the stone. It implies for someone (an expert) of Halifax made the translation.

“Afterwards, it was placed in the jamb of a fireplace that Mr. Smith was building in his house, and while there was viewed by thousands of people. Many years afterwards, it was taken out of the chimney and taken to Halifax to have, if possible, the characters deciphered”.
“One of the experts gave his reading of the inscription as follows: “Ten feet below are two million pounds buried.” We give this statement for what it is worth, but by no means claim that this is the correct interpretation. Apart from this, however, the fact remains that the history and description of the stone as above given have never been disputed.”.

I (Daniel Ronnstam) believe this “Ten feet…” etc is a distortion of the original message “Forty feet…”. If reading the context in the Prospectus seen above which was a publication aimed at attracting investors and sell shares for excavations, the author excuses himself in case the translation turns out to be wrong. I believe this distortion was done on purpose in order to make investment more attractive. 10 feet down would be possible to dig for a much lower cost than 40 feet.

The Oak Island Treasure CHARLES B. DRISCOLL, (1929:Jan./June) p.685

“The stone was shown to everyone who visited the island in those days. Smith built this stone into his fireplace, with the strange characters outermost, so that visitors might see and admire it. Many years after his death, the stone was removed from the fireplace and taken to Halifax, where local savants were unable to translate the inscription. It was then taken to the home of J.B. McCulley in Truro, where it was exhibited to hundreds of friends of the McCulleys, who became interested in a later treasure company. Somehow the stone fell into the hands of a book binder, who used it as a base upon which to beat leather for many years. A generation later, with the inscription nearly worn away, the stone found its way to a book store in Halifax, and what happened to it after that I was unable to learn.”.


27th March 1935 Letter of Harry W Marshall to Fred Blair and RV Harris

The stone was on display until 1919 in the store of Creighton and Marshall, (of which Harry’s father was a partner). Harry says one of the Creightons who was interest in the Oak Island Treasure Company brought the stone to Halifax, but no characters could be seen except for the initials JM which were carved into the stone in more recent times. Considering the Oak Island Treasure Company was in existence from 1893 to 1899, this can only mean a Creighton brought the stone to Halifax between 1893 and 1899.

Conclusions, by Paul Wroclawski

At some point between 1849 and the death of Smith in 1857, George Cooke observed the stone and found characters. Between the time of George Cooke viewing the stone and replying to John Hunter-Duvar in Jan 1864, someone supposedly build a wooden partition which hid the stone.

Upon George Cooke disclosing the location of the stone in Jan 1864, it is quickly removed from the fireplace prior to the closing of the Oak Island Association.

We can gather by the dates, and folding of the Oak Island Association, for the stone to have been removed very close to the end of the company and very near to when its location was disclosed by George Cooke. If they knew about the location prior to the disclosure by George Cooke, then why did Jefferson MacDonald and company wait to remove the partition to view it?

While George Cooke says he saw characters and supposedly other folks in Halifax and Truro saw characters, by the time the stone arrives in Halifax for a second time, no characters are observed on the stone.

The stone came to Halifax, then went to McCulley in Truro, then in or after 1893 (a stone) made its way back to Halifax and into the front window of the Creighton and Marshall bookstore.

Did J.B McCulley switch the stones, even perhaps selling a fake to the new Oak Island Treasure Company?

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