An historic map may point to the Lost Colony of North Carolina – The Roanoke Colony that disappeared during the 16th-century Anglo-Spanish war. Three years after England sent the colony its last supply shipment, the colonists disappeared, giving rise to the “Lost Colony” nickname. To date, no conclusive evidence has been revealed as to the fate of the 116 settlers.
Under the orders of English aristocrat Sir Walter Raleigh, and led by English artist John White, in 1587 a group of 90 men, 17 women, and 10 children sailed the Atlantic with the purpose of establishing a colony at Chesapeake Bay. The area was inhabited by the Croatans –a small Native American coastal tribe. White returned to England that same year to petition the Crown for assistance. He was not able to return until 1590; when he did, he found no traces of the colony.
Explains the Lost Colony Wikipedia page: “The only clue was the word ‘Croatoan’ carved into a post of the fence around the village and ‘Cro’ carved into a nearby tree. All the houses and fortifications had been dismantled, which meant their departure had not been hurried. Before he left the colony, White instructed them that if anything happened to them, they should carve a Maltese cross on a tree nearby, indicating their disappearance had been forced. As there was no cross, White took this to mean they had moved to ‘Croatoan Island’ (now known as Hatteras Island), but he was unable to conduct a search. A massive storm was forming and his men refused to go any farther; the next day they left.”
During his initial visit, White drew up a map of the area, known as the “Virginea Pars” map. Researchers say a concealed clue on this map may reveal where the colonists ended up. A study of the map in 2012 had shown that it contained two patches – one thought to be a “correction,” while the other shows the location of a hidden fort. The paper used in these areas is contemporaneous with the dating of the map. When the map is placed atop a light box, the key symbol for a fort is visible.
Archaeologists have recently returned to the site of the hidden fort – located at the confluence of the Chowan and Roanoke rivers in the western Albemarle Sound. “It’s fair to say it’s a site of very great interest to us,” said archaeologist Nicholas Luccketti.
Phil Evans, president of the First Colony Foundation, concedes the clue is promising, but says additional research is needed.
“If we were finding this evidence at Roanoke Island, which is the well-established site of Sir Walter Raleigh’s colony, we would have no hesitation to say this is evidence of Sir Walter Raleigh’s colonies,” he said. “But because this is a new site and not associated with Sir Walter Raleigh, we have to hesitate and ask questions and learn more. It’s not Roanoke Island. It’s a new thing, and a new thing has to stand some tests.”