Clues to the 400+ Year Mystery of Roanoke Island
May 31, 2012 History: American History

Have you heard of the Lost Colony? It’s a mystery that has lasted more than 400 years.  We delved a bit into that mystery last week!

Roanoke Island Festival Park was an amazing interactive history site.  The kids and I spent over six hours learning about the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island.  Back in 1587 a second attempt was made by Sir Walter Raleigh to create a lasting settlement in the New World. This was during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. In 1587 116 settlers s to create a colony in the New World. The first baby was born in the New World, a baby named Virginia Dare. When the colony ran low on supplies, John White (Virginia Dare’s grandfather) returned to England to get more.  A war between England and Spain kept him in England.  The great Spanish Armada was defeated (in large part by storms off of England) and it wasn’t 1590 that John White was finally able to return.  He found little, all the buildings had been torn down and the only clue was the word Croatoan carved into a post. For years people wondered if the colonists had moved south to live with the Croatoan Indians.

Earlier this month (May 2012) experts discussed new clues about the fate of the Lost Colony. Researchers wondered what was under the patches on the map made by John White.  They discovered one of the patches hid a fort symbol in what is now Bertie County in northeastern North Carolina. John Horn, vice president of research and historical interpretation at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, believes this provides conclusive proof that the settlers moved westward up the Albemarle Sound.   The site where archaeologists would need to dig is privately owned (partly owned by a gold course and under a residential community) so excavation won’t happen any time soon. Meanwhile archaeologists will re-examine ceramics  from the area. You can read more and see photos of the 425 year old map here.

Meanwhile the kids and I got to climb aboard the replica of the Elizabeth II, one of the ships that made the 1585 voyage. It could hold 50 people and was surprisingly small. The small boat on the right is the one crewmen would have assembled to actually row ashore.

Next we set of to explore the interactive American Indian Town and Settlement Site. Again, the kids loved it because there was so much to do–weaving, helping carve out a canoe, trying out the settler’s tools, watching the blacksmith, trying on the armor, plowing the ground with a shell and on and on!

The kids had fun in the Roanoke Island Adventure Museum as well. They had a wide variety of costumes to try on — everything from colonists clothes to Civil War uniforms and pirate dress ups.

Fossil Search: We spent lots and lots of time in the fossil area.  Museum officials bring in truck loads of material from a fossil site in Aurora, North Carolina. The kids spent well over an hour looking for fossil sharks teeth.  Everyone found lots of different specimen.

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