A mystery captured my adolescent mind and I’ll never forget the history lesson about the lost colony of Roanoke. On my visit to the Outer Banks, I stopped by Fort Raleigh National Historic Site which preserves the site of the first English settlement in America. Head to the visitor’s center first to refresh your memory on the history. The gorgeous walls inside are made up of wood from an Elizabethan estate.
Pictures are hanging from an artist who was sent over to document the strange creatures they discovered in the new world.
One interesting fact that I learned was that spelling was not standardized at this time, so the same word such as ‘Raleigh’ could be spelled multiple different ways. Under Queen Elizabeth, ships were sent to America to disrupt the Spanish dominance in the area. Three voyages were made the first in 1584 to scout the area in present day Outer Banks North Carolina, then a second to explore, and a third for permanent settling. The settlement was found abandoned when supply ships arrived late. How did they die? Natural causes? Attack from natives? Did they leave? Outside stop at the earthwork, reconstructed in the 1950s. It is still unclear what it is used for, certainly not to keep safe the 100+ settlers, because it is so small.
There is a short quarter mile loop hike, the Thomas Hariot trail, named for a scientist who came to the new world to assess the value of the plants animals and minerals.
The environment is a maritime evergreen forest, unlike anything that exists in England.
I learned a lot from my visit and I have my own personal hypothesis, but the question for certain remains the same. What happened to the settlers on Roanoke Island? We may never know for sure.
Good to know:
+Free to enter the visitors center and park
+If you are looking to extend your time, visit the Elizabethan Gardens (fee) and see the Lost Colony theater drama running over the summer since 1937