Oak Island Burial Mounds DECODED- Archaeological Lesson

Oak Island, Nova Scotia, Canada – Commander Hutton Pulitzer

Recently we released our underwater investigation footage of the waters surrounding Oak Island, and although there are many history making announcements to come; we selected to lead off with the discovery of several ancient burial mounds connected to Oak Island.   As we have watched the post and video go viral among Oak Island aficionados, we have also watched as some of the current cast of naysayers have started seeding the public with “those are just ballast stones”.  

The use of the term “ballast stones” to the uninitiated in archaeological methods will sound plausible and those posting ballast stones comments may actually sound educated on the matter, but the truth is there is a huge scientific difference between ballast stones and underwater burial mounds.  So since the best way to inform is to approach it in an educational manner, welcome to our brief lesson in underwater archaeology and the difference between ballast stones and man made mounds of stone.

Lets start with the actual definition of “ballasts stones”:

Ballast is used in sailboats to provide moment to resist the lateral forces on the sail. Insufficiently ballasted boats will tend to tip, or heel, excessively in high winds. Too much heel may result in the boat capsizing. If a sailing vessel should need to voyage without cargo then ballast of little or no value would be loaded to keep the vessel upright. Some or all of this ballast would then be discarded when cargo was loaded.

Looking at the definition above you should notice a few important things:

  1. They are associated with “Sailing Vessels”
  2. Ballast is discarded as cargo is loaded onto the ship (making room for the weight counter balance)

So you gain an idea of what ballast stone is in relation to a ship, take a look at the following photographic exhibit:5620c1a354df6590631f4d62e0281039

In looking at the diagram of the ship above, one notices the bottom hold of the ship is filled with stone.  This is the “ballast stone”.  Now ballast stone is incredibly important to the truth about history!  Do you know why?  The ship was loaded with ballast stone when it left its original port to voyage to obtain goods.  When the goods were obtained in the foreign and ancient lands, the ballast stone was discarded.  Real ballast stones are archaeological smoking guns!  You know why?  Test ballast stone in Bimini Islands and one finds the stones are a genus of stone originating in China!  New scientific tests allow for this testing and will soon accelerate the rewriting of history.

Now lets suppose you are a Captain of a ship, cargo needs to be loaded and therefor ballast must be tossed to make way (NOTE:  ships also toss ballast in emergencies when they need to lift the draft of the boat, i.e., raise the boat in the water in times of trouble).  Okay, back to the picture.  You are the captain and you give the order to toss the ballast.  Thus the crew in varying sections of the ship, enter the belly of the ship; gather ballast bring it top side and start tossing ballast off and over board.  Now your crew has started tossing off the ballast.  HIT PAUSE FOR A MOMENT.

One of the very best ways to defend a find is to understand how it is going to be attacked. If you prepare for the attack then you can mount an educated defense and truth will rule the day.  The same comes when you produce evidence which reads contrary to the “approved archaeological history” of the area.  Then you must understand there are two types of dissenters to such historic finds.  Those who are just repeating the same old archaeological or anthropological rhetoric and those who have axes to grind for varying reasons.  With an educated and open minded archaeologists (depending on the country and institution) science and tests can be enough to begin to get them to pay attention to the historic find.  However, the opposite end of the spectrum is usually the uneducated, misinformed and untrained narcissist which no matter the science, the facts or the evidence; still must work diligently to try to taint the find and get as many people as possible to ignore the evidence.

Now you might ask yourself why would anyone ignore visual and scientific evidence?  These types of individuals are one of the most destructive forces to the advancing of the archaeological and historic records.  These are the people, no mater what is presented keep fighting and the most prominent reason is “they have already published items for the public which go counter to the findings and they will be overturned and embarrassed if the historic record is changed”.  Therefore, it is not about facts and science, it is about not being able to adapt and the narcissistic inability to changes ones opinion in light of the evidence presented.  So, since this is a lesson in archaeology, this is also a lesson in “how to combat the combative and out of date ideas”, then lets use that to teach you the best way to learn.   Real time examples.  So before we go back to tossing off rocks, lets do this real time.

To refresh, who is Daniel McGinnis?

In 1795, 18-year-old Daniel McGinnis, after observing lights coming from the island, discovered a circular depression in a clearing on the southeastern end of the island. Adjacent to the clearing was a tree with a tackle block on one of its overhanging branches. McGinnis, with the help of friends John Smith (in early accounts, Samuel Ball) and Anthony Vaughan, excavated the depression and discovered a layer of flagstones a few feet below. On the pit walls there were visible markings from a pick. As they dug down they discovered layers of logs at about every 10 feet (3.0 m). They abandoned the excavation at 30 feet (9.1 m)

Most people who research the island know the year, the boys being boys, the lights and the tackle/block being an old Oak Tree are complete fabrication.  In fact, many Nova Scotia locals have  gone on the record to clarify the matter of the fabricated tidbits reported as truth.  However the more important item to note is one of “shame and fame”.  Here is what I mean by “shame and fame”.  Local around the island in Nova Scotia have had to contend with the newspapers, television broadcast and locals whispering about how Oak Island was a hoax and was concocted to “steal money from people and rip off investors”.   Imagine growing up in a town, spending your life  hearing everyone say Oak Island is aa “scam and hoax”? It would have to take a toll on one, as we all would agree.

Problem is, with the History Channel Hit TV Series “Curse of Oak Island” several things are happening.  The world is in love with Oak Island, more people than ever believe Oak Island is real and more an more evidence is coming forth that there is tremendous historical evidence, evidence which will rewrite history; which is being found on and near Oak Island.  WOW, talk about a double whammy!  First you Nova Scotians shame and distance themselves and now it is cool and hip to be “An Oak Island Insider”.

Confirming this story come an article from Richard Joltes of the blog Critical Inquiry, published February 7, 2014.  Mr. Joltes  reports about several local Nova Scotian comments:

In addition, I’ve long been in contact with people like Paul Wroclawski and others (the latter a direct descendant of Dan McGinnis, said to have been one of the “boys” who claimed to have found the Money Pit in 1795) who have done extensive research of their own.”The fact that none of us have been contacted, and that no actual historians or folklorists are part of the show’s cast, is indicative of the derision with which networks like History treat the subject. Rather than engage in actual research using legitimate resources, they instead involve a parade of “believers” who, they think, will make good TV.”


The one thing we are for, is the best evidence possible, so lets approach this as if we were putting something on trial.  Think of having to prove up a case to get a prosecution.  We need the best possible evidence which can be presented.  First, we do have to take into account local Nova Scotia laws.  In Nova Scotia, when it comes to this type of archaeological discovery, you can only video and photograph document, then you must apply for the proper permits to investigate further, which can include the removal of stones for testing and in fact, this is the only circumstance you can even touch the stones.  You must have a government permit.

So, what are the facts in this case, these are ancient burial mounds and not ballast stones?

CASE POINT #1:  The underwater video documentary of the site was made by an underwater archaeology certified diver who is trained to identify and study such structures.

CASE POINT #2:  The side of Oak Island these ancient burial mounds are found on are specifically located on:

  • The shallow, storm and storm surge protected side of the island, so virtually undisturbed over time, and;
  • In being considered ancient burial mounds, they correspond where the ancient riverbeds run concurrent with the island in ancient times.  What this means is: these mounds, in relation to an occupied site are located exactly where they should be in relation to the island.  Sheltered, near water and not where the open ocean would of been in ancient times.  These were constructed when Oak Island was not an island and on the side which would of fact connected to the main land at said time.  Simple: They are located in the right historical place to be ancient burial mounds.

CASE POINT #3: The photographic evidence shows these “mounds of rocks” to be intentionally constructed in a linear and decisive manner.


Now the playing field for you is level.  You know truly what ballast stone really is and you know what you are up against with the opposing counsel with this case.  So lets proceed with the prosecution of:


So we have already entered into evidence a historically correct drawing of where such ballast stones are located within the hold of a ship.  Now, if the jury allows, lets go back to the scenario of you are the ship Captain and you have ordered the ballast to be tossed.  We want you to consider your orders as a Captain.  (1) Did you order “toss the rocks”? or (2) Did you order, “Toss the rocks, but come up ONLY from this lower entry within the ship and only toss them over at the very exact spot on the side of the ship”.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?  Well style of “tossing off” has everything to do with this case.  You see, by the assertion made by the plaintiff in this matter, he maintains the reason said rocks are in a perfect pile is they were tossed off the side of the ship.

Here is what you need to know.  There are three types of ballast stone discoveries.  One is when the ship is usually moving in a storm or inking and all hands on deck are taking the rocks and tossing off in an efforts to try to save the ship.  Thus, these stones are easily found since they are in a straight line scattered behind the ship.  The normal sinking to the bottom after the tossing off, leaves them in a somewhat straight line.  Such straight lines are well known in underwater archaeological circles, since you can follow the line to the sunken ship. We can dismiss this type of ballast since we are taking a perfectly formed circle and not a line of rocks.

Next type of ballast pile is the ship went down and when the ship wood rotted away a pile of rocks was left and they happen to form the wedged or very elongated oval of the ship.  This style can be dismissed since we are not showing as evidence either a ship shaped or elongated oval formation of rocks underwater. 

ballast stonesSo now we must move on to the final type of ballast stone occurrence.  The tossing off of rocks to make way for cargo to be loaded.  This type of ballast has a unique geometrical feature as well.  Submitted to the jury is the following photographic evidence.  As the jury can see in this photograph, the stones are not stacked, are simply tossed and as one can see, when they are tossed they are just tossed off EACH SIDE OF THE SHIP, therefore they have the tell tale geometric shape of “being split down the middle”.  This is WHY we asked if you were Captain of the ship did you also tell them the exact point where you wanted them tossed off, thereby forcing your crew of 100 to 200 to fight up and down the stairs to go to the exact same spot and toss off rock, thus forming a dome pile on the bottom of the ocean floor?

Now chances are you did not, because you can see if is illogical and in ship mate and military terms would be a FOBAR of an operation.  But if we may, lets humor the jury and say we have in fact discovered the single most fastidious and neat ship Captain ever to live and he did in fact issue specific orders on where and how to toss the stones overboard.  What we would say then to “Captain NeatNick” is, “then fine sir, please tell us how you managed to sail between Oak Island and the main land in the shallowest of all waters around the island, with said ballast in tow, so that you may get to said point and toss such ballast in the first place?”  (Funny thing, when I wrote that the voice in my head was Jack Sparrow- LOL)

As you can see there is no way to defend this is just “ballast stone”. But lets let the photographs speak for themselves.  These are screen captures from the underwater documentation of the ancient burial mounds.  We will present marked educational ones first and then the clean native image for further inspection.

EXHIBIT ONE:  General build and height

colored keyed mound sample

As you can see in this photo the ancient burial mounds have height from the ocean floor and the tell tale circular construction.

NOTE:  There is NOTHING under the water for a hundred yards or more except these mound and monoliths.  NO OTHER ROCKS OR ITEMS.

Here is the native pic for inspection, notice the intentional set stone formation.

clean photo

In this photo you can easily identify the stacking rows and these stones all are set FACE OUT, not jumbled ends.  This is an other telling sign.

stacking study all sides no ends


This is a known and proven ship ballast pile which does have mounding, but you can see the setting is erratic, not stacked and is made up of tossed ends and faces, not lined up as above with faces turned out in neat rows.

ballast 1

As you can see in the bottom diagram, when it is just tossed it can mound (if tossed to one side) but it tapers and creates peaks and valleys.  The case of Oak Island is round, perfectly round, with linear stacked stones.

Putting all the data together researchers found that the structure is cone shaped, about 230 feet (70 meters) in diameter and nearly 32 feet (10 meters) tall. It weighs an estimated 60,000 tons. Diagram courtesy Shmuel Marco

There is much to review in these underwater ancient burial mounds connected to Oak Island.  Proven up, these mounds and the archaeological evidence which they may contain could rewrite the history of the Americas as we know it.  That is ladies and gentlemen, IF we get honest, factual and unbiased testing, commentary and research from as many parties as possible.


Hiding and Obfuscation of History relies on technobabble and big words to make YOU think you are wrong.  So you need to know how to find the facts.  Second, they also relay on beating you down, calling you names and trying to destroy your character.  Thats is all they have left when they cannot fight you on facts.  These lessons are to teach you how to fight the technobabble and to put the bullies and naysayers in their place with facts and science.  In short, to defend the rewriting of history you must learn to argue your case.

For now the case of Burial Mounds versus Ballast Stones is closed and decided in favor of Ancient Burial Mounds.  That is until they read this blog and come at the attack another way.  WHAT SAY YOU?

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3 thoughts on “Oak Island Burial Mounds DECODED- Archaeological Lesson

  1. charline

    I found this very Interesting My Husbands ggrand father told us a story of a boat that went down betwenn the Island his name was Publicover from Lahave and it makes me think if he were only alive to speak to

  2. Anthony Colbourne

    Did you pick up one of these rocks to see if it was in fact a local stone or not? If it’s flint, it’s likely ballast from England. If it’s coral, it’s likely ballast from the Caribbean. If it’s granite like all the other granite in the area then it might be a man made structure. If it’s in 10 feet of water, the ship might have run aground and they had to off-load some ballast to refloat the ship… the ship wouldn’t move while it’s run aground and the rocks wouldn’t pile up under a grounded ship, but they would certainly pile up on either side and no one is going to heave large rocks too far from the side of the ship, just let them drop into the water.

  3. Rick Lesquier

    Even if a ship had run aground and offloaded ballast there is no way it would have been stacked so perfectly. Fill a bath tub and start dropping pebbles to see if you can replicate the stacked stones. As the stones fall through the water they will drift, tumble and roll off the sides of the pile. It is impossible to get the stones to stack as shown in the photo unless purposefully stacked by hand. I have dove many wreck sites off the Florida coast and have seen my share of ballast piles. The Oak Island stone piles are Not Balast stones. I also can’t say for sure they are burial mounds as further investigation would be needed. They could have been ceremonial mounds as are commonly found in the East Coast of North America. Florida as well as many other states in the US have Midden, Burial and Cerimonial mound works still visible today.


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