What happened to the Roanoke Colony?


Yesterday in my U.S. survey course I lectured on the founding of Jamestown. When I talk about mercantilism and other motivations for settlement of Jamestown, I often mention the “lost” colony of Roanoke. But a new book on Roanoke claims that the so-called “lost colony” was never lost. Here is a taste of Alan Yuhas’s piece at The New York Times:

In 1590, the would-be governor of a colony meant to be one of England’s first outposts in North America discovered that more than 100 settlers weren’t on the small island where he left them.

More than 400 years later, the question of what happened to those settlers, who landed on Roanoke Island, off the coast of modern North Carolina, has grown into a piece of American mythology, inspiring plays, novels, documentaries and a tourism industry in the Outer Banks.

Stories have taken root that the colonists, who left no clear trace aside from the word “Croatoan” carved on a tree, survived somewhere on the mainland, died in conflict with Native Americans or met some other end.

new book about the colonists, “The Lost Colony and Hatteras Island,” published in June and citing 10 years of excavations at nearby Hatteras Island, aims to put the mystery to bed. The book’s author, Scott Dawson, a researcher from Hatteras, argues that the Native people who lived there took in the English settlers and that historical records and artifacts can end the debate.

Read the rest here.  Several scholars are skeptical.