If you were rummaging through antique stores, and grans old collectibles hoping to find some real pirate treasure maps, please cease and desist. You could really be wasting a lot of your time, and there’s a real good reason for stopping too. You see, real pirate treasure maps have never existed. Not even once in all recorded history. How disappointing is this for treasure hunters? The task just got that little bit more difficult. But why aren’t there any maps? Was Hollywood lying to us?
Don’t get us wrong or take this out of context. While real pirate treasure maps have never existed, the same can’t be said about buried treasure. This is something that certainly did occur, and in several famous circumstances as well.
In one of the most well known cases of buried treasure, Sir Francis Drake of the Royal Navy was documented burying gold ans silver treasure from a raid on the Spanish. He stole, or confiscated the loot, buried it to conceal its location, then went to get his ships to collect his booty. However, he used his memory to find the secret location, as he never made a map to reveal its location.
On another separate occasion involving the Royal Navy, British Captain Stratton was caught trading rum with pirates. He was reported to the authorities, and before he was captured and sent to trial, he buried his treasure, supposedly somewhere in or near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. It’s assumed that it was recovered, but no map was ever made. In any event, even if a map were made of their hidden loot, neither Drake or Stratton were pirates. So where did this tall tale of pirate treasure maps come from?
Captain Kidd is the pirate we can thank for hidden treasure maps. Just before he was captured he hid his plunder in many places. Most of it went to family members and close friends, but he did hide a substantial quantity at Gardiner’s Island, near Long Island, New York. This was eventually found, and used as evidence against him in his trial. So where is the connection with the fabled maps?
This guy was a celebrity, sort of in the ilk of Billy the Kid. His capture and trial aroused so much public interest and speculation about more bounty hidden in secret locations, that the myth that he must have maps revealing their location became all the more popular. But all of it was based upon speculation. No maps ever existed.
While many people still come by from time to time stating that they have a genuine pirate map, most are fake. Not a single one is supported or endorsed by respected scholars.
This left me wondering. Why didn’t pirates make treasure maps? It could be for a few reasons. While most pirates were expert navigators, map making, especially when it comes down to locating something hidden beneath the surface, isn’t an easy thing to do. You only need to look at the early maps of the world to see how difficult the task is. It really wasn’t until Captain Cook, who was one of the best cartographers of his time, if not all time, that maps became more accurate. They could have certainly buried their bounty, but a poor map would have ensured it remained hidden. But probably the most likely reason was trust. In a world of thievery, murder and pillaging, the only person that you could trust was yourself. Put it this way. You work with someone that rapes, kills, murders and steals for a living. Sure, you work with them, but would they steal a chest full of gold and silver from you if you weren’t around? Maybe, maybe not. But would a pirate take that risk, even if they knew they were about to hang? I doubt it.