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The truth about treasure maps

Over the years many people have claimed to have discovered maps and other clues that led to pirate treasure, or claim that historical maps are actually treasure maps. Spoiler alert, apparently (according to wikipedia) these claims are not supported by scholars, but who cares about scholars. Pirate maps are real ok!

One of the earliest known instances of a document listing buried treasure is the copper scroll, which was recovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls near Qumran in 1952. Believed to have been written between 50 and 100 AD

Here below on this blog post are just a few notable treasure maps that we have found to be historical and inspiring.

1974 Fred Nolan map of Oak Island treasure

oak island treasure map

Oak Island is a small island covered in oak trees off the coast of Nova Scotia. Legend has it that in 1799 a Daniel McGinnis noticed a depression near some trees as he was looking for treasure buried by Captain Kidd. He found booby traps and regular intervals which led him to believe that there was treasure buried in the vicinity. Find out more about this map HERE

One Eyed Willy's treasure map from The Goonies

Mikey finds the framed map and hands it to Chunk, knowing that his clumsy friend will eventually break the frame, like he does with most things he touches. Once freed from the frame, the rest of the Goonies take a look at it as well. The written text on the map is in Spanish, which Mouth (the brain) is able to translate. Mouth deciphers the various puzzles and riddles to be solved. Here is a replica map and Copper bones key that you can buy on Etsy.

Treasure map from the Goonies

Robert Louis Stevenson and the Map of Treasure Island

A famous map in literature is Scottish writer, Robert Louis Stevenson's book Treasure Island first published as a book in 1883. The plot is about a boy called Jim and his mother who find a map of an island on which the infamous pirate Captain Flint hid his treasure. They go to find the treasure and so the adventure begins.

Eventually, they find the treasure cache empty. The pirates nearly charge at Silver and Jim, but shots are fired by the ship's command along with Gunn, from ambush. Livesey explains that Gunn had already found the treasure and taken it to his cave.

Treasure island treasure map 

1660 Bartholomew Sharpe's journals

In 1680, English pirate Bartholomew Sharpe and 300 men crossed the Central American isthmus at Panama, captured a Spanish ship, the Trinity, and used it to raid Spanish vessels up and down the Pacific coast of Central and South America. Their exploits became famous, in large part because they were a remarkably literate band of buccaneers: Five of the men, including Sharpe, kept detailed journals.

Spanish pirate map

The map is from a 1669 Spanish derrotero that historians once thought was the one captured from the Rosario. Its navigation directions and views of harbors as they would appear from out at sea would have been incredibly valuable to sailors at the time. More recent research suggests that this derrotero was actually captured a decade earlier by the famous pirate Henry Morgan. William Hack may have had access to (although it wasn’t his primary source).

Spanish map

Naturalogical Hemisphere

This was the first map produced and designed by us at Planet Patrol gallery in 2017. It is a 2 colour screen print and is our very own map of the world. Printed in South London, its taken from an ancient atlas and features beasts from around the world. For example a kangaroo, zebra, monkey and bear. It was printed as an edition of 25 and screen printed in Suffolk. The size of the map is 40cm x 40cm and retails for £50. There are few left. BUY NOW
 planet patrol naturalogical map

Marauder's Map Harry Potter

The Marauder's Map is a magical document that revealed all of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Not only does it show every classroom, every hallway, and every corner of the castle, but it also showed every inch of the grounds, as well as all the secret passages that were hidden within its walls and the location of every person in the grounds, portrayed by a dot. It is also capable of accurately identifying each person, and was not fooled by animagiPolyjuice Potions, or invisibility cloaks; even the Hogwarts ghosts are on the map.


Fantasy or fiction, pirate treasure maps have had a huge influence on popular culture over the years. From classic literature to 80s films, we all want to believe in hidden treasure, and why not! Who knows you might even find treasure hidden in your own backyard. Our Planet Patrol urban street maps are from 1890 and so are not always accurate but they continue to inspire and connect us to the past.