The Lost Colony is one America’s oldest unsolved mysteries. Archeology sleuths have long been hot on the trail of the aptly named lost colony. Historians have been puzzled for centuries about just what happened to the group of about 117 English men, women and children of the Lost Colony, considered America’s oldest unsolved mystery. There have been many theories speculating that the colonists were killed by Indians, or that they traveled north in an attempt to reach their original destination near the Chesapeake Bay.
Are we any closer today to solving the mystery? According to some, the mystery has been solved, and according to others we’re not there yet…but getting close.
The Virginia Pilot recently wrote an article about Scott Dawson, an Outer Banks native and local historian, who has been researching the Lost Colony along with archeologists for several years. Dawson, whose lineage traces back to the Croatoan Indians, believes that the Lost Colony traveled from Roanoke Island to Hatteras Island sometime after their leader, Gov. John White, sailed back to England for help in 1587. Hoping to prove this theory and learn more about the Croatoan, Dawson spent several years working with archaeologists at the University of Bristol in England.
In November, Dawson’s work finally paid off when the university sent a team to explore an area in Buxton that he believed had once been the site of an Indian village. The team found a mix of Native American and English artifacts dating back as far as the 17th century.
“We didn’t get Virginia Dare’s pinky ring, but I’m not disappointed,” Dawson said.
The history behind Dawson’s theory – parts of which are shared by other historians – is based on the fact that there were two rival tribes in the area. Relations with the Secotan were hostile, largely because of the actions of another Englishman who ordered a Secotan town burned in 1585.
The Croatoan’s however, had welcomed white people since the first English expedition landed on the Outer Banks in 1584. Abandoned by their leader and surrounded by enemies, the colony may have sought refuge with the Croatoan on Hatteras Island, Dawson theorizes.
Research will continue in late March and early April in the Buxton and Frisco areas.
Dawson recently spoke for the first time about last year’s dig, and his presentation included a slideshow of pictures from the dig, along with several artifacts.
To learn more about the Lost Colony make sure to visit the 74th season of the symphonic drama opening May 28th at Manteo’s Waterside Theater.