The Deserted Island

No megalithic structures, here.
Or 27-foot high giants.
Just a quiet, rural setting.
And people.
116 of them.
Men, women, and children, like you and me.
Who, some time between 1587 and 1590, simply disappeared.
All 116 of them.
Off the face of the Earth, apparently.
And into the annals of mystery.
The Lost Colony, of Roanoke.

The Island of Roanoke
Roanoke is an island in Dare County, North Carolina in the USA.
It was named after the historical Roanoke Carolina Algonquian people – a Native American tribe who inhabited the area in the 16th century, at the time of British exploration.
Today, there is a land area of 17.95 square miles (46.5 km2), and a population of 6,724 as of the United States Census of the year 2000.
Roanoke Island is famous for having the first ever English colonial settlement in the New World; Sir Walter Raleigh laid the groundwork for setting up the Roanoke Colony in 1585 – 1587.
And Roanoke Island is where the first child of English descent was born in the New World.

Prelude To A Mystery
It was actually in 1584 that the first group of English settlers made an attempt to establish a colony at Roanoke Island.
This first batch of adventurers consisted of a hundred men, but they quickly abandoned their first settlement due to harsh weather conditions and their failure to maintain a good relationship with the native tribes.
In 1585, explorer John White traveled to Roanoke Island, and made a map and other drawings of the island.
In July of 1587, a colony of 116 English settlers landed on Roanoke Island, led by White.
One month later, the first English child – a little girl – was born in the New World.
A week after Eleanor Dare’s daughter was born, her grandfather, Captain John White, set sail for England to bring back food supplies and other materials.
What Captain White expected to be a short trip turned out to be a long stay in his motherland.
Spain attacked England, and there were many other unexpected events, which conspired to delay Capt. White’s return, for a further 3 years.

The Disappearance
When Captain John White returned to the island in 1590, his daughter, Eleanor, and granddaughter, Virginia Dare, were nowhere to be seen.
White saw no one from the English settlement he had left three years ealier, and the place was bare of any signs of life, as even the houses had disappeared!
The letters “CRO” were sketched on a nearby tree and the word “Croatan” was found carved into a wooden post – but a visit to the Croatoan Indians (another local tribe) gave him no answer as to where his family and the English colony had gone.
More than a hundred people – 90 men, 17 women and 9 children – had apparently vanished.

What Happened To Them?
Who knows?
Some say that the colony was wiped out by a sudden deadly storm – easy enough to imagine, given the island location.
Others theorize that the settlers may have been the subject of brutal attacks by nearby native tribes, seeking to prevent future colonization of the island.
Still others maintain that the settlers may have intermingled with and become absorbed into the native population. That they became so comfortable, living as natives that they ultimately decided not to return to the colony.

A New Perspective On The Case
Experts from the First Colony Foundation in the USA, and the British Museum in London have taken a fresh look at White’s 425-year-old map of the region (The “Virginea Pars” map of Virginia and North Carolina has been owned by the British Museum since 1866), and uncovered what they feel may be a tantalizing clue as to the fate of “the Lost Colony.”
White made the map and other drawings when he traveled to Roanoke Island in 1585 on an expedition commanded by Sir Ralph Lane.
Attached to the map are two patches: One appears to merely correct a mistake on the map.
The other patch, however – in what today is Bertie County, in northeastern North Carolina – hides what appears to be a fort. Another symbol, appearing to be the very faint image of a different kind of fort, is drawn on top of the patch. It is visible only when the map is viewed in a light box.
It is unclear why someone covered the symbol with a patch; it could indicate plans to build more of a settlement than just a fort.
The American and British scholars do believe that the fort symbol could indicate where the settlers went.
In a joint announcement, at a scholarly meeting on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel May of this year, the museums said, “First Colony Foundation researchers believe that it could mark, literally and symbolically, ‘the way to Jamestown.’ As such, it is a unique discovery of the first importance.”
“Their intention was to create a settlement. And this is what we believe we are looking at with this symbol – their clear intention, marked on the map …”

How Compelling Is The New Evidence, Though?
It is certainly true that White knew the majority of the Roanoke settlers had planned to move “50 miles into the maine,” as he wrote, referring to the mainland.
And the patches on White’s map are significant, in and of themselves.
Brent Lane, a member of the board of the First Colony Foundation, observes that the map was critical to Sir Walter Raleigh’s quest to attract investors in his second colony.
It was critical to his convincing Queen Elizabeth I to let him keep his charter to establish a colony in the New World.
And it was critical to the colonists who navigated small boats in rough waters.
So, that made Lane wonder:
“If this was such an accurate map and it was so critical to their mission, why in the world did it have patches on it? This important document was being shown to investors and royalty to document the success of this mission. And it had patches on it like a hand-me-down.”
If the second patch does indeed indicate plans to build a new settlement that was larger than a fort, and if the proposed site is in modern-day Bertie county, then investigators now have a definitive place to concentrate their search.
“We believe that this evidence provides conclusive proof that they moved westward up the Albemarle Sound to the confluence of the Chowan and Roanoke rivers,” said James Horn, vice president of research and historical interpretation at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, and author of a 2010 book about the Lost Colony.
“This clue is certainly the most significant in pointing where a search should continue,” Brent Lane added.

So, The Search Is On…
The land where archaeologists would need to dig eventually is privately owned, and some of it could be under a golf course and residential community. So excavating won’t begin anytime soon.
Archaeologists must first re-examine ceramics, including some recovered from an area in Bertie County called Salmon Creek.
It could take a while.
But, as Brent Lane concluded:
“The search for the colonists didn’t start this decade; it didn’t start this century. It started as soon as they were found to be absent from Roanoke Island … I would say every generation in the last 400 years has taken this search on.”

It will be fascinating to see what they turn up.
I hope you have a good day.