Have We Found the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island?

Sir Walter Raleigh sponsored a colony of English immigrants on Roanoake Island, on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. They arrived in 1587 and had disappeared by 1590. It has since been called "The Lost Colony" because no one knows what happened to the 90 men, 17 women, and 11 children who established the colony. They may had died from disease or violence from Native Americans, or they may have left, possibly splitting up to join tribal villages. In recent years, research into the mystery was sparked by a discovery on a map drawn by the colony's governor John White.

Two patches on the map made Brent Lane of the First Colony Foundation (the group behind the latest archaeological trip and a National Geographic grantee) in Durham, North Carolina, wonder if they might hide something beneath.

Scientists at the British Museum looked into the patches and discovered a tiny red-and-blue symbol. Could it have indicated a fort or a secret emergency location?

"Our best idea is that parts of Raleigh's exploration in North America were a state secret, and the map 'cover-up' was an effort to keep information from the public and from foreign agents," said Eric Klingelhofer of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, a historian and the principal investigator on the project.

This map point led researchers to take the latest technology out into the area, ground-penetrating radar (GPR). The intriguing results present evidence of a fort buried several feet under the ground. But what is really underneath, and how old is it? It has been suggested that the next step might be the use of a proton magnetometer. However, Clay Swindell of the Museum of the Albemarle thinks they may have to resort to old-fashioned research.

"We have to go in and dig some holes, I guess," Swindell said.

Read about the Lost Colony and the latest research on its disappearance at NatGeo News. -via Digg

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