Sir Walter Raleigh’s Colony Vanished Over 400 Years Ago. Scientists Are Still Looking


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Sir Walter Raleigh, an English adventurer, writer and explorer of the Americas, founded a colony in North Carolina in 1587 that later disappeared. Archaeologists hope to uncover new clues about what happened.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images


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Tin-glazed earthenware fragments were found at Fort Raleigh National Historic Site in June 2016. Scientists are undertaking a new dig to search for further information about the Lost Colony.

National Park Service


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National Park Service

Tin-glazed earthenware fragments were found at Fort Raleigh National Historic Site in June 2016. Scientists are undertaking a new dig to search for further information about the Lost Colony.

National Park Service

But three years later, when a resupply mission returned to Raleigh’s colony, none of the previous inhabitants was there. The only clue to their disappearance was the word «CROATOAN» carved into a wall.

The dig occurring this week is focusing on a previous expedition to the area in 1585, when a group of military men and scientists scouted the land for Raleigh.

The search will occur on several sites, including a metallurgical and science workshop set up by Thomas Harriot and Joachim Gans just a few years before the permanent settlers arrived.

Archaeologists Catch Big Break In Disappearance Of Roanoke Island Colonists

Archaeologists will reexcavate sites where previous searches may have missed or misinterpreted soil changes called «features» to better understand what was there, according to the foundation. Some artifacts have already been discovered there, but scientists have also used ground-penetrating radar to identify new areas of interest.

Last year, the team of archaeologists found shards of pottery they believe may have been owned by members of Raleigh’s colony.

The public is invited to watch the digs in person.

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