Publication : Bristol Evening Post
Release Date : Tuesday 5th March 2002
It's every schoolboy's dream to go off in search of buried treasure on some distant paradise isle. SUZANNAH MARSH met one Bristol man hoping to turn his dream into reality and unearth a £10 million pirate hoard hidden for more than 300 years.
Bristol Has plenty of connections with the fabled pirates who terrorised the high seas when Britannia really ruled the waves.
It has even been suggested the city should erect a statue to Long John Silver, the fictitious pirate in Robert Louis Stevenson's famous novel Treasure Island. We had Woodes Rogers, the privateer who rescued Alexander Selkirk ~ the inspiration behind Robinson Crusoe ~ before becoming a colonial governor.
Then there was Edward Teach, the Redcliffe boy who grew up to become Blackbeard, one of the fiercest and cruellest pirates of all. They left a legacy of sea shanties, tall tales of mutiny, double crossing, honour among thieves and buried treasure.
Now a Bristol man believes he has sifted the fact from the fiction and discovered the truth about one of the most notorious pirates of them all ~ Captain William Kidd.
What's more, Paul Hawkins believes he has solved a centuries old riddle and discovered the location of millions of pounds worth of long lost treasure. He just needs the right backing to mount an expedition to the island site.
Captain William Kidd, hanged in London in 1701 for his antics on the high seas ~ was always believed to have secretly buried some of his stolen booty before he was arrested and transported back to England to stand trial.
In a desperate bid to save his life after being sentenced to death, he wrote to Robert Harley, speaker of the House of Commons, stating "In my late proceedings in the Indies, I have lodged goods and tresure (sic) to the value of £100,000"
A pair of cryptic maps were the only clues, and since the maps were discovered in the 20's and 30's, scores of hopefuls came up with possible answers of just where they thought Kidd's treasure island was located. All have been unsuccessful.
No one has been able to crack the secret of the maps ~ until Paul used a mixture of space age technology, hours of research, determined perseverance and good old common sense to pinpoint just where he believes Kidd's treasure island is located.
He is keeping the exact location under wraps for the moment until he can find the right backing to help him mount a high profile recovery expedition.
Paul said "There are so many Bristol connections to the pirates of the day, many of which grew out of the adventures of people like Kidd and the songs and stories sung in dockside taverns of their legendary and fabled treasure being buried on far off mysterious islands."
"Robert Louis Stevenson would have heard these sea shanties and pirate stories during his time in Bristol, and it is believed this experience inspired him to write his famous novel Treasure Island."
"I think it would be wonderful if the story came full circle and the mystery was solved where it all began ~ in Bristol."
"It's taken me years of research to get to this point, and I really believe I've got it right where many others before me got it wrong. The island site could only have been discovered in recent years since the advent of computer technology and development of the Internet."
Paul's theory stems from two treasure maps carefully hidden in secret compartments in items of Kidd's furniture. The maps depict the same distinctively shaped island, but with different markings and clues. The maps were only discovered in 1929/30, and tested at the time by the British Museum, who confirmed the ink compound and parchment were of 17th century origin. Paul's theory is that before Kidd left the Indian Ocean to declare his spoils in America, he deposited his personal hoard on his treasure island, fully intending to return at a later date to collect his secret cache.
Kidd was under pressure from his backers and knew he would be likely to face investigation upon his return to Boston. Paul believes Kidd compiled and applied a secret code to his maps to conceal the true location of his treasure island.
Paul claims to have identified Kidd's secret code. He applied the code to the first map which gave a set of coordinates. He then applied the same code to the second map and found it gave the same coordinates, even though the base clues differed from the first map.
The deciphered coordinates from both maps point to a location in the Indian Ocean. Paul even believes he also knows the spot on the island where Kidd's cache is buried.
Confident that he had cracked the code and identified the exact location of the island site, Paul travelled to Taunton to check through the archives of the world oceans at the Ministry of Defence Hydrographic Office, where modern and ancient charts are housed for the Royal Navy.
Paul also searched through the entire database of NASA and the MIR space station of earth observation images taken from space. After many painstaking hours of sifting through mountains of data references to image coordinates, spreading back many years, he eventually found his target coordinate that matched the coordinate from deciphering Kidd's maps.
The resulting image showed a small atoll. The outline and shape of the atoll matched perfectly the sketches made by Kidd on his maps 300 years earlier.
Paul was convinced he had at long last found Kidd's island in the Indian Ocean.
He went on to say "After many disappointments and precarious adventures in my search for the truth, to suddenly see an image taken from space of an island that perfectly matched Kidd's sketch, at the exact coordinate I had deciphered from Kidd's maps, confirmed I had been right all along. It was the proof and justification I needed"
Paul, who has produced a comprehensive document qualifying his discovery, believes his evidence is watertight, but the only way to know for sure is to take a team to locate and excavate the island site to discover Kidd's treasure caches, now believed to be worth in excess of £10 million.
He said "I know how close I am, I just need the right sponsors to get behind me to prove the mystery is solved once and for all.
Publication : Western Daily Press
Release Date : Friday 8th March 2002
Space-age technology may have unearthed priceless pirate hoard
Has a key turned up for Kidd's treasure?
Captain William Kidd was one of the most notorious pirates of the 17th Century. Now a Bristol man believes that he has discovered the way to Millions of pounds' worth of the pirate's hidden treasure and is preparing an expedition to bring it back in triumph to the city. FLAVIA MUNN reports :-
Historian Paul Hawkins was yesterday preparing to set out on a quest to find a multi-million pound pirate treasure hoard.
Armed with a pair of cryptic maps, Mr. Hawkins believes he has cracked the centuries old riddle left by one of the most notorious pirates of all time, Captain William Kidd.
Mr. Hawkins, of Bristol, said yesterday: "It's a great discovery. I am now looking at some commercial enquires to continue my project."
Captain Kidd was a wealthy adventurer who travelled the world and whose friends in high places included King William III.
Beginning his seafaring career as a young lad, Scottish born Kidd went on to help governors of Massachusetts and New York to rid their coast of enemy privateers.
But an ill-fated mission in the Indian Ocean ended in 1701 with his neck in the hangman's noose.
William III had issued "My Beloved Captain Kidd" a license to capture pirates who were raiding ships belonging to the East India Company.
Captaining the Adventure Galley, he attacked a ship belonging to the the Great Mogul of India and took gold, silver, precious stones and other valuable goods.
But his exploits caused embarrassment to the King and his influential backers and a Royal Warrant was issued for his arrest for acts of piracy.
Mr. Hawkins believes it was at this time, in 1698, that Kidd buried his personal hoard of treasure, intending to return at a later date to recover his hoard.
On his arrival in New York to declare his spoils, he tried to explain to the waiting governor how it was impossible to control his piratical crew, but he was arrested and transported to London to stand trial at the Old Bailey for acts of piracy and the murder of one of his gunners, William Moore.
He wrote a letter to Robert Harley, Speaker of the House of Commons in which he referred to his hidden treasure in the Indies, but his offer to take appointed persons to recover the treasure in return for his life was refused.
Maps hidden in items of Kidd's ship's furniture were discovered in the late 1920's and early 30's, and Mr. Hawkins believes he has managed to decipher their hidden code and meaning. He claims the island lies in the Indian Ocean, and says he knows the exact location.
Mr. Hawkins checked the coordinates at the Ministry of Defence Hydrographic Office in Taunton, Somerset, where charts of the worlds oceans are kept for the Royal Navy. Hawkins also searched through the entire database of Earth observation coordinates of the Mir space station and NASA. He eventually found a set of coordinates that matched his deciphered coordinates. The resulting image revealed a small atoll, identical in shape to the island depicted on the maps. Mr. Hawkins had found his island!!
Now Mr. Hawkins hopes, with financial support, to mount an expedition to discover Kidd's hoard of treasure.