Continuation of Freemasonry - Part I - Part VIII - Part X

Chase Vault Story with Links to Photographs

Photo from: “The Chase Vault Homepage” by Dr. Jason Moore

Supernatural, Natural or Human Phenomenon?

There are four possibilities involving this mystery: Three possibilities
involve the moving of the coffins. They were either moved by:

  1. Supernatural forces
  2. Natural forces like water or gas, or
  3. Humans

The fourth possibility is that the coffins were not moved at all, but that reports
were made falsely stating that they had been moved.

Based on the circumstances, it is unlikely that any one of the first three possibilities represent fact. By a process of elimination, this leaves us with the hoax, which was investigated by Dr. Joe Nickell (See next two paragraphs). I would not take any of the arguments too seriously. My only conclusion would be that Freemasons were very influential in Barbados since the early 1800’s, and that their terminology is present in some of the accounts of the Chase Vault story.

A Masonic hoax?

“Though based entirely on circumstantial evidence, Nickell’s speculations are intriguing and well argued. They are also, at this late date, unprovable. In any case, there is no compelling reason to believe any of the moving-coffin stories describe real-life occurrences.”

” The only one for which much information is available, the Barbados episode, is loaded with symbols and phrases which Freemasons would recognize. Nickell, who had investigated an earlier Masonic hoax involving a tale of buried treasure, contends the Barbados story was fashioned around the Masonic allegory of a “secret vault” which, according to a Masonic text, “was … in the ancient mysteries, symbolic of death, where alone Divine Truth is to be found …. We significantly speak of the place of initiation as ‘the secret vault, where reign silence, secrecy and clarkness.’ It is in this sense of an entrance through the grave into eternal life, that the Select Master is to view the recondite but beautiful symbolism of the secret vault. Like every other myth and allegory of Masonry, the historical relation may be true or it may be false; it may be founded on fact or the invention of imagination; the lesson is still there, and the symbolism teaches it exclusive of the history.” ”

(Editor: Allegorical essay seems more appropriate than hoax.)

Investigative Files - The Secrets of Oak Island

by Joe Nickell (B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. University of Kentucky. Ph.D. literary investigation and folklore.) Read entire article here.

“Another such lost-treasure story is found in the purported Beale Papers which tell a tale of adventure, unsolved ciphers, and fabulous treasure. This was “deposited” in a stone-lined “vault” (using language from the Select Masters’ degree) in Virginia. The papers were published by a Freemason (Nickell 1982b).

Then there is the “restless coffins” enigma of the Chase Vault of Barbados. According to proliferating but historically dubious accounts, each time the vault was opened, between 1812 and 1820, the coffins were discovered in a state of confusion. After they were reordered the vault was closed by “masons.” Yet the coffins would again be found in disarray. At least two of the men involved were high-ranking Freemasons. In 1943 another restless-coffins case occurred on the island, this time specifically involving a party of Freemasons and the vault being that of the founder of Freemasonry in Barbados! (Nickell 1982a)

It now appears that another such tale is the legend of Oak Island, where again we find unmistakable evidence of Masonic involvement.”

The World’s Greatest Unsolved Mysteries By Reverend Robert Lionel Fanthorpe
(More about author)

Masonic involvement debunked - “Giant, tropical, puff-ball fungi” held responsible

(Editors note: I have lived for over 20 years in Christ Church, Barbados, and I
never seen a giant, tropical, puff-ball fungus. However, they do exist! Here
is a photograph of one apparently taking a break from moving coffins and (ha,
ha) preparing to ambush a lad wearing sneakers!)

Click here to view photographs of the interior of the macabre Chase Vault.

Click here to see the rear barrel arc ceiling of the mysterious Chase Vault.

Good Chase Vault Stories with Photographs


  • Interesting interpretation, recent photos - Entering the Chase Crypt
  • “Sketch showing the positions in which the coffins were left in the Chase vault, Barbados, on July 17, 1819—the vault being closed and sealed immediately” - link
  • “Moving Coffins of Barbados” - link

Lord Combermere

Lord Combermere headed the investigation in 1819 into the Chase Vault disturbance. He was both a high level Freemason and a Governor General of Barbados at the time. This is what he is reported to have seen:

“The seal was perfectly intact upon arrival, but the coffins were still scattered. Some of them had even flipped upside down, and one was lying halfway up the stairs leading to the door. The sand so carefully placed before gave away no footprints or signs of water.”