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The Lost Colony Of Roanoke

Updated on January 19, 2014

The "New World"

At the time of all these expeditions and voyages the main topic of European countries was of course The New World that Christopher Columbus had founded. After his successful voyage many other sailors and explorers had set out to see this "New World."

People wanted to establish new colonies and explorers would explore and map what they found. Roanoke was one of these attempts to colonize the New World.

John White

John White was the man who sailed to America.

Very little background history is known about John, such as his birth and early life information is as good as nothing.

He was an early colonist and an experienced mapmaker in the times of the 15th century.

He was allowed to sail to the new world and arrived at what is known today as North Carolina.

Of course the colony was never really established and his efforts lead up to one of America's strangest mysteries.

Roanoke Voyage

Like I mentioned before John White was the one to voyage and sail to Roanoke Island. He sailed there with a group of roughly 110 people, to start exploring the place.

Once they arrived the group settled down and met the people who lived there, The Native Americans. Records really never stated any disputes or arguments with Native American tribes at the time.

After a while John White and his crew were low on supplies to he went back to resupply. At the same time a war between England and Spain was happening. This war made it hard to travel back, and he returned 5 years later in 1590.

Roanoke Island

Here you can see what the island looked like during the 15th century.
Here you can see what the island looked like during the 15th century.

The Roanoke Disappearance

Once John White returned from his voyage to Roanoke the island was completely empty.

  • Where did the colonists leave off to?
  • Why did they leave?
  • Was There a famine?
  • Were The alive?

These are some of the questions that still have no solid answer to this day. He had returned with supplies and some more people but there was no sign of the colonists.

The only evidence was the word "CRO" for "Croatoan." carved on a tree. At the time there was a hurricane that made any further investigation for John White difficult so he returned back.

What Do You Think Happened To The Colonists?

See results

Roanoke Explanation Theories

After few decades historians came up with their own theories as to why the colonists disappeared. Some of these include the following.

  • A Famine (no food so starvation)
  • Hurricane and intense flooding
  • Harsh winter
  • Cannibalism
  • Native American Attack on colonists


Ships Arriving At Roanoke

you can see early settlers arrived at Roanoke colony in early colonization attempts.
you can see early settlers arrived at Roanoke colony in early colonization attempts.

Relocation To Croatoan

The most common theory explanation is that the colonists relocated to Croatoan because of the tree carving. This would be quite explainable because of lack of resources and isolation to a small island.

However no investigation of Croatoan was done to further conclude that this is indeed what the case was. Also no solid evidence was present to conclude this theory because relocating wouldn't be so simple either.

Winter & Famine

The winters at Roanoke were known to be quite harsh and it is possible that colonists froze or starved to death since they didn't have the best warmth and winter clothing.

Once winter hit food on the island quickly died animals went underground or flew off leaving nothing to eat.

This also connects to the Cannibalism theory, that starvation lead the colonists to turn on each other.

Once again no dead bodies or signs of struggle were found making this harder to prove.

Lost Colony Documentary

Watch The Documentary

The documentary to your right explains the history and goes through most of Roanoke's colonist theories.

It's a great video so watch and keep these questions in mind whilst watching.

  1. Who established the colony?
  2. What are some reasons colonists might have vanished?
  3. How did this lead up to one of America's strangest mysteries?
  4. Are there any solid clues to what happened in recent times?

Roanoke Island (Modern Day)

Modern times image of the "Lost Colony," looks quite different from what it did 5 centuries ago huh?
Modern times image of the "Lost Colony," looks quite different from what it did 5 centuries ago huh?

Satellite Google Maps Image Of Roanoke Island

The Mystery Remains Unknown...

Even after all the theories and everything I have talked about in this article the the Lost Colony Of Roanoke remains a difficult to solve and uncanny strange gap in the colonization of America.

Nobody knows for sure what had happened in those 5 years.

Whatever it was it remains a strange phenomenon in the early colonization of America.

It just remains a puzzling mystery that has never been solved and doesn't look like it will be solved.

At least not anytime soon.

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