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Lost Roanoke Colony Is Found: Evidence in Maps, Artifacts and Dna Tracking

Ms. Inglish has 30 years experience in medicine, psychology, STEM instruction, history, and aerospace education for USAF Civil Air Patrol.

A word was carved into a tree at the Roanoke colony's fort palisade. The word was left for the Governor returning from sea: "Croatoan."

A word was carved into a tree at the Roanoke colony's fort palisade. The word was left for the Governor returning from sea: "Croatoan."

Where Is Old Roanoke?

Evidence: Emery, Theo (8-10-2015). The New York Times. The Roanoke Colonists: Lost, and Found?

My Summary and Comments:

DNA research had already found some links between the lost Roanokers and their present day descendants that also have indigenous bloodlines and are living in North Carolina.

Merry Hill, North Carolina or Site X is the "here" in the researcher's discovery declaration that involves about a dozen colonists. This place is on Albemarle Sound and labeled as Site X.

A strong supporting x-ray spectrograph analysis by the British Museum of an old map belonging to governor John White lends credence to this second inland site of Roanoke adventures.

Previously, Chocowinity, southwest of Merry Hill, was determined to be a possible settlement site of missing settlers, based on artifacts found, especially ceramic ware. Increasing numbers of Border-ware ceramic artifacts found comprise a marker for the presence of the Roanoke colonists. The researcher, Mr. Luccketti hopes for an additional 15 acres for approved further excavation.

Several archaeological sites around Albermarle Sound may prove to have been home to the 100 lost colonists. The group may have spit in two or several smaller groups.

My opinion is that some of the 100 likely died of harsh weather and disease, but that several survived.

We have evidence from this site that strongly indicates that there were Roanoke colonists here.

— Nicholas M. Luccketti of the First Colony Foundation

Important Evidence Found by Research Triangle Professionals

Organized research from the renowned Research Triangle Park points to a link between the Roanoke Lost Colonists and the current descendants of early Native American peoples they met in and around the present town of Chocowinity, North Carolina. Evidence is found in maps, archaeological artifacts and DNA markers (Find some names of descendants living today and follow the research at

Most importantly:

  • A one-word code was found carved into a log in a fort wall as a message to Governor John White upon his return from the sea, as the colonists under his authority fled their home. This was done in the prearranged fashion established by White and the single word was Croatoan. It was the key for White to understand where they went. The word refers to the Croatan Band of natives.
  • There is no Maltese Cross carved through or after the word in the log. A cross added would have meant that an attack was underway. Thus, there was no attack and the people moved.
  • The Croatans are not extinct as many reports state. They no longer have an official band, but their descendants live in Northern Carolina today, proved by Research Triangle professionals..
  • Croatan Island on maps used at the time of the colonists' disappearance is today's Hatteras Island, a nearby barrier island that contains Route 12 and is 42 miles long.
  • Per National Geographic (Tanya Basu, December 6, 2013), a large wooden structure surrounded by a palisade fence was found buried on Hatteras island.
  • English artifacts in a sizable number were unearthed on the current Hatteras (formerly Croatan) Island. This means that the likely lived there.
  • The lost colonists most likely joined the Croatan band of natives.
Parts of Hatteras Island, some under water in 2003.

Parts of Hatteras Island, some under water in 2003.

The Research Triangle Examines Local History

The colony of Roanoke Island disappeared sometime between 1587 and 1590 during three years' time and the absence of their governor.

Speculation has been wide:

  • A disease, floods (earning the Roanoke River the nickname River of Death among natives), or fire may have destroyed the colony. However, no fire remains were found in 1860, according to records.
  • The colonists were attacked by Croatan or Roanoke "Indians." No hard evidence proves this notion.
  • The colonists were attacked by the Spanish and killed or kidnapped. No evidence exists for this notion.
  • The colonists ran out of supplies, experienced failed crops and drought, and went to live with the Croatan Band of Native Americans. Interestingly, some of the settlers were from Wales and a hundred years after the colony was lost, new English settlers found Croatan People on Hatteras island that could speak Welsh and read books.
  • The entire colony moved southward to another island.
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Problems at Roanoke

Approximately 90 men, 17 women, and 11 children sailed by ship sent by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1587 to a point north of Roanoke Island to build a fort and settlement called the Cittee of Raleigh.

Those people were put off the ship by the Spanish Captain after a strenuous voyage of mishaps across the Atlantic Ocean before they reached their destination.

Captain Fernandez put the English off with the excuse of returning south to warmer waters and his privateering business. However, he anchored off shore, watching, as the stranded people tried to construct a village.

A previous attempt in 1556 to colonize Roanoke Island ended badly. The 1587 settlers found a bleached human skeleton on the beach as soon as they were stranded. They found a fort that had been destroyed. They found wildlife eating the garden produce left behind, still on the vines.

One of the men went into the waters off shore to gather crabs and was killed and mutilated by some Native Americans.

Researchers found through tree-ring analysis in the late 1990s that the most severe drought in eight centuries hit Roanoke Island between 1587 - 1589. Thus, the colonists fought bad weather, fears of the Spanish, hunger, and some real Native Americans.

Hatteras Island is Croatoan Island on Old Maps

The English had their first baby in America when Virginia Dare was born just a few days after the explorers landed on Roanoke Island in August 1587.

Governor John White was Virginia Dare's grandfather. He found it necessary to return to England for supplies in September 1587.

Fearing attacks by Native Americans or the Spanish, the Governor developed a code to use in case the colonists fled while he was absent.

They were to carve a word into the bark of a tree and the word was to be a key to their new location. The addition of a cross over the word would indicate that an attack had taken place.

John White did not land on Roanoke again until 1590. He found the single word "Croatoan" carved into a tree that had been used in the colonists' fort palisade.

Scientists and historians discovered that the word means a specific location, leaving a message as a clue. This new site is south of Roanoke Island on the 42-mile long Hatteras Island, a part of Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

This journey today from Roanoke Island to Hatteras (Croatan) Island is short and Hatteras Island is very long. The colonists and Croatans had plenty of room to hide from any attacks.

Hatteras Island is marked as "Croatoan Island" on an old map of the region.

The Two Islands Today

Hatteras Island is at the lower right (southeast) corner of the photo and the island is at least 42 miles long, leading to Cape Hatteras. Arrows and letters a.b.c.d. indicate possible boat or canoe routes. Route 12 extends down to the cape.

Hatteras Island is at the lower right (southeast) corner of the photo and the island is at least 42 miles long, leading to Cape Hatteras. Arrows and letters a.b.c.d. indicate possible boat or canoe routes. Route 12 extends down to the cape.

Croatan and Roanoke Bands of NC Natives

Genealogists and geneticists are actively examining DNA markers for links between the missing colonists and their part-indigenous descendants in North Carolina.

The Croatan Band lived all along the Outer Banks long before English settlers landed. They likely were related to the Roanoke Band that also lived there. Today, approximately 250 of these indigenous peoples' descendants live near Greenville.

The Lost Colony Center for Science and Research found many English artifacts on what is now Hatteras Island. DNA studies continue long-term to match European DNA markers among today's Croatan descendants, with notable success.

European DNA markers include Hispanic and English groups, requiring further examination.

By 1710, the Farrows, O'Neals, Hoopers and Wahabs were reported to be 'half Indian and half English.'

— Hatteras Island DNA Projects

DNAeXplained Progress in Roanoke Cases

DNAeXplained company is searching for any male descendant of the Lumbee Berry line in North Carolina to take a DNA test to connect that line up with the Roanoke Colony families that disappeared.

There are two Berry families who claim descent from the Lost Colonists of Roanoke Island in 1587, Henry and Richard Berry, who are presumed to be related to each other.

— DNAeXplained

Migration of the Lost Colony of Roanoke