The Seychelles archipelago is known for many things: Pristine beaches, amazing coral reefs, the variety of endemic birds that nested there, home to the only flightless bird in the Indian Ocean, a population of land tortoises that surpasses the total number of inhabitants (150,000) lush green hills and an abundance of coralline and granitic island scattered over 1.4million km square of ocean. However the most luring story for visitors and locals are fascinating legends of pirates and buried treasures, on many of its islands such as Mahe, and Ile Moyenne.
To date, a lot of focus has been on Bel-Ombre, in the Northern part of Mahe, where it is believed that Olivier Le Vasseur’s (a French pirate from Calais) hidden treasure worth £150 million lies. There has been less attention given to unfounded stories about Moyenne Island situated in the St Anne Marine National park, which is claimed to be haunted by a spirit that stands guard jealously over a buried treasure.
Moyenne is 4.5 km off the North Coast of Mahe. From 1915 to 1970, the island was abandoned until it was purchased by a Yorkshire, who was also a newspaper editor in Nairobi; Brendon Grimshaw who bought the island for £10,000. It is believed that he was the 11th owner who enjoyed a Robinson Crusoe lifestyle for many years until he died and was buried on the Island.
“If there is a treasure hidden on Moyenne, Brendon will surely know, this guy has spent so many years on this island, he must have mentioned it in his book” said local historian Mr. Tony Mathiot. “I have indeed heard of a treasure buried there, but none of my research has shown anything concrete” he added.
Stories of ghosts and strange apparitions abound in Seychelles and some of those tales are linked to buried treasure: it is thought that some pirates would kill a slave and bury him with their wealth, so his spirit would guard their booty until they returned.
Brendan Grimshaw, the late owner of Moyenne Island, was a firm believer that treasure is buried on his island and that a ghost does indeed guard it.
In his book ‘A grain of sand’ Grimshaw talks the about stories of ghosts that haunted the island, including that of an eccentric English woman Emma Best, who lives on the island in 1910. Having the island as his home for more than forty years, he had on several occasions heard about a treasure buried there. He himself had twice tried to dig with the hope of finding those worthy possessions.
The miniscule island cemetery which housed two tombs dates back to 1892, a period when pirates were very active in the Indian Ocean, and some writing suggests that those pirates were using some of Seychelles well scattered islands as a lair. The treasure said to be buried on Moyenne is thought to be worth £30,000,000.
Grimshaw had himself been urged to dig the foot of the tombs when he once was informed that a child dreamt of a buried treasure there. Though he joked about it, he did so in the hope of finding this great treasure; “clearing the cemetery I had discovered a square of coral concrete, only a few feet from the graves and so one evening decided to take a spade and find out if anything was buried underneath” he relates in his book. “While I admit being a bit sheepish about the whole affair, I chickened out completely when, at the precise moment my spade touched the coral concrete, two large coconuts fell with a thud and rolled close to where I was standing” he wrote.
Some people who had heard the story had tried digging secretly at the same spot to find the treasure. Afterwards, Grimshaw saw some charcoal left by the side of the grave, and later he understood from a local that legends say “if a person dreams about a treasure they can dig and find it, but if anyone else digs then they will find specifically charcoal and nothing else”
During a second dig he once again encountered some difficulties all attributed to the spirit of slaves guarding the treasure, and he stopped looking after having dug16 feet.
If there is a treasure on Moyenne, then all indicators show that it must still be hidden somewhere on the island, for it is very unlikely that those who came digging during the night found anything as worthy as gold.
The late owner himself claimed that the island is itself a treasure, today dead and buried on his island, he must be one amongst the many ghosts roaming it keeping people well away from Moyennes’ precious treasure.