Burying your own Treasure
One project you may want
to undertake is the creation of your own treasure. For this, you and
your family or your friends can assemble items that may have value or
Author Alistair Reid, his
twelve-year-old son, Jasper, and a friend, Jeff Lerner, decided to bury
their own treasure while on vacation in St. Andrews, Scotland. During
the spring of 1971, they took a plastic box and filled it with treasure:
small plastic airplanes
jarful of pennies
of the family
of white quartz
that still wrote
postcard of St. Andrews
newspaper dated May 22, 1971
Carrying spades and
lanterns at twilight, they found the perfect burial spot on public land
that bordered a golf course. They selected a small elm tree, about
twenty yards from a stone wall, as a landmark, then Jasper measured the
distance from the tree to the treasure site: three arm spans. They told
themselves they would remember the exact location when they returned to
reclaim the box on Jasper's twenty-first birthday: August 9, 1980.
On the precise date nine
years later, Reid, Jasper, and Jeff met in St. Andrews. The small elm
tree was now fully grown--and problems developed with their memories.
Jasper did not remember using "three arm spans" and began to
pace off the distance from the tree. He dug a small hole at a location
he chose and uncovered an unbroken teacup and a bent spoon--hardly his
box of treasure. Even when he tried to measure by arm spans, he realized
that his arm had been quite a bit shorter in 1971; precise measuring was
impossible. By the time they found the box--with the aid of a metal
detector--they had dug many holes in an area more than eighteen feet
wide. Clearly, their memories of the twilight burial had dimmed in nine
Upon opening the box,
they saw the announcement they had placed on top of their treasures. It
containing treasure in coin and various souvenirs of the present
moment in St. Andrews in May 1971, is buried here by Jasper Reid, Jeff
Lerner, and Alistair Reid, in a spot known only to these three
persons. It is their intention to return on the 9th day of August,
1980, to meet and disinter the chest in one another's company and to
celebrate their survival with appropriate ceremony. Sunday, May 30,
1971, a hazy day with sea mist, rooks, curry, and kites.
To bury your own
treasure, select a good box. It shouldn't be made of cardboard or even
wood, which may rot over the years. A metal or plastic box with a tight
seal is preferable. You may want to wrap the box in aluminum foil, since
that will make retrieval with a metal detector easier.
Once you have your box, you can decide
what you'd like to place in it. Different items may suit your purpose.
For example, a copy of a
recent newspaper is useful. This not only provides a date, but will be
of interest in the future to see what was happening in your area and the
world at the time.
place some items that date the time you buried your treasure
include a personal message. This
could be written on paper or recorded on audio- or videotape. You may
also want to encode a message so that its contents will remain secret
until you decipher it. Your message might say who you are, what you've
buried, why you've buried it, and what you hope to be doing in the
future when you recover the box.
include items that have personal meaning. Such
items might include your favorite stuffed animal, a bedtime book you
enjoy, or special toys that you've collected.
add possible future treasures. These
could be shiny new coins, postage stamps, unopened packs of baseball
cards, or whatever.
When you've assembled
your collection, place it inside your box, perhaps wrapping everything
in a plastic garbage bag or two in case it should spring a leak.
Then select a burial spot
with care. First, avoid a place where you can be watched by others. As
soon as you leave someone may simply dig your box up. Second, bury it
either on public land (where digging is permitted) or on your own
property. If you decide to bury it in your backyard, consider whether
your family is planning to move. If so, someone else will own your house
and may not appreciate your digging there years from now.
When you've chosen a
site, dig a hole at least two or three feet deep. If you bury your box
too close to the surface, it may be uncovered by heavy rains or soil
erosion. Finally, remind yourself when you wish to unearth your
treasure. You might write a brief note, put it in an envelope, and ask
your parents to place it in a safe deposit box. The outside of the
envelope might read: DO NOT OPEN UNTIL, MAY 8, 2015 (or whatever date
you choose). Inside, your note will describe the treasure you buried,
along with a map of the location or written directions to the treasure.
Whatever you do, however,
do not rely on your memory of the burial. As you saw with Alistair and
Jasper Reid, memory is a very tricky thing.
ŠJames M. Deem. Taken from
How to Hunt Buried Treasure (Houghton Mifflin, 1993).