For centuries historians have tried to solve the mystery behind the vanishment of the Roanoke colony.
In 1587, Sir Walter Raleigh and the English crown sent a mission to Roanoke Island, now part of North Carolina, under the command of John White to establish a colony. White embarked with his son-in-law and his daughter Eleanor Dare. She gave birth to little Virginia Dare on the mysterious island on August 18, 1587; she is still remembered as the first Englishwoman born on American soil.
90 men, 17 women, and 11 children landed on the coast of Roanoke. After experiencing problems at the settlement, White returned to Britain in search of aid and supplies but was caught up in the conflict of the war with Spain. When he returned to the island in 1590, he found no trace of the community he had founded. The houses had been dismantled with no signs of fighting or combat; there were no human sights, the only thing he found was the word “Croatoan” engraved on a post, and on a nearby tree the syllable “cro.”
The “Croatoan” was a tribe that had been friendly to the newcomers, so White was confused by the inscription because before leaving, he had agreed that if the settlers were attacked, they would leave the inscription of a Maltese cross before moving away. Given this discovery, White assumed that the colonists had moved to the “Croatoan” region, but he never managed to find them because of heavy storms and few resources to pay for boats to accompany him in the exploration. He passed in 1606 in England, the fate of his daughter and granddaughter unknown.
In 2000, historian Lee Miller published Roanoke: Solving the Mystery of the Lost Colony. The book hypothesizes that the colonists took refuge with another tribe but were attacked by the Eno tribe. Miller relies on 1609 reports from the Jamestown colony that claimed to have seen a group of English captives in Indian settlements in the region. In 1611 William Strachey, a Jamestown clerk, wrote of four English men, two boys and a girl who were seen in the area of the Eno tribe. According to Strachey the girl escaped and fled. That girl is thought to have been Virginia Dare, the granddaughter of John White. But there is no evidence to support this theory.
In 2012, the British Museum found one of the maps drawn by White with a record of a fortress about 50 miles from the colony. When investigating the described area, archaeologists found pieces of pottery, metal tools, European swords, and objects from the XVI century approximately. Some say that these objects belonged to the Roanoke settlers who joined a group of natives, probably the Croatoan tribe, which would explain the inscription carved on a tree.
But why the second inscription is only the syllable “cro”? It seems that the colonists were forced to leave quickly and did not even have time to finish writing the word. For this reason, other versions indicate that the colonists were destroyed by some tribe or that tired of waiting for supplies and help from White, they tried to return to England alone and got lost in the ocean.
The most accepted version is the one that assures the British Museum since in tribes descending from the “Croatoan” as the “Coree” and “Lumbee” there are many genes of blond hair and blue eyes. Besides that, in the surnames of the members of the tribe many of the settlers of Roanoke are recognized, it is also said that they speak English as a second language and profess the Protestant religion.
Archaeologists from the First Colony Foundation have published research that aims to solve the mystery of the Roanoke settlers once and for all. Their theory is that they merged with another tribe, which could be confirmed by the project that The Lost Colony Centre for Science and Research is currently carrying out by analyzing the DNA of the possible descendants of the English settlers, which would reveal, more than four centuries later, the mystery behind the disappearance of the Roanoke colony.
Story originally published in Spanish in Cultura Colectiva NewsPodría interesarte