The Treasure of Lima is the only loot hidden on Cocos, where a further 350 tons of gold – plundered by both 19th century British Captains Bennett Graham and Portuguese Bloody Sword Bonito – are thought to be also secreted away on this fabled treasure island.
Shaun Whitehead, British explorer from Melton Mowbray is apparently set to head, as leader of an archaeological expedition, for the deserted Cocos Island – supposed hiding place of one of the world’s most fabled missing treasures, the Treasure of Lima – a Pacific island on which 19th century pirates, it is believed, stashed a huge hoard of stolen Spanish treasure.
Thought to be, by modern standards, well over $200million, this vast trove was stolen, in 1820, by British Captain William Thompson, whilst transporting it to Mexico from Peru, the belief being that he buried
his plunder on Cocos, where it remains to this day, this uninhabited island said to have inspired Robert Louis Stevenson to write the iconic Treasure Island novel.
About 350 miles off the coast of Costa Rica, the island hides this hoard, comprising, according to an old inventory, hundreds of gold and silver bars – 113 gold statues – one a life-size Virgin Mary – 273 swords with jewelled hilts – solid gold crowns -150 chalices and 200 chests of jewels.
A Unesco World Heritage Site, Cocos has a variety of wildlife in an unspoilt environment, so 18 months of hard negotiations with the authorities have been needed to to secure permission to go there on an exploratory mission, the first in over 25 years, following on from famous treasure seekers like Roosevelt 1933-45 US president – in 1910.
German explorer, August Gissler hunted the missing hoard or almost 20 years, living on the island but finding a mere just six gold coins, though this modern team of explorers have the absolute latest in technology, and Whitehead – previously leader of a project exploring the Great Pyramid of Giza, – feels confident.
The hoard will, he feels, most likely be hidden within a natural cave. buried long ago by one of the many landslides that occur on the island regularly. His team will concentrate on those three of the four island -bays most used by visitors, utilizing a small, remote-controlled unmanned camera-laden helicopter to make a computer-generated 3D map of the landscape of the place.
Ground penetrating radar will detect any cavities up to 60ft below the surface, all such information added to the 3D map, and any concealed caves identified will be investigated with a specialist keyhole drill – able to get to 100ft down – via which a probe camera can be sent. This ten-day trek will also involve extensive archaeological, geological and ecological research.
Mr Whitehead is an engineer whose company supplies specialist electronic exploration equipment, and this expedition is self-funded, aiming to set off after the end of the current rainy season in November. Any treasure found would be passed it on to the Costa Rican authorities, who would probably to pay a fee for its salvage to the research team, the hoard having been carried aboard the ship Mary Dear.
Thompson and his crew sailed to Cocos, hiding the treasure, but were soon apprehended by a Spanish warship, though Thompson and his first mate escaped, and are thought into to have been picked up by a passing ship a year later. Despite several early expeditions being mounted, the supposed riches remain undiscovered.
Not that the Treasure of Lima is the only loot hidden on Cocos, where a further 350 tons of gold – plundered by both 19th century British Captains Bennett Graham and Portuguese Bloody Sword Bonito – are thought to be also secreted away on this fabled treasure island.