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The Spookiest Facts and Theories About The Lost Colony Of Roanoke

posted: 01/10/17
by: Kelly McClure

For years historians and paranormal enthusiasts have been trying to get to the bottom of the disappearance of this colony established in the late 16th-century. Here are some facts you need to know if your curiosity has been piqued.

1. Early Beginnings

Photo: Sir Richard Grenville via Wikimedia Commons

The colonization of Roanoke Island was first attempted in 1585 by Sir Richard Grenville and 100 male colonists who traveled from England to what is now known as North Carolina. Once they arrived, Grenville returned to England to gather up some more supplies and that's when things started to unravel. While Grenville was away his second in command, Ralph Lane, was left in charge and tried to provide for the other colonists by kidnapping and enslaving Native Americans who were also occupying the land. Sir Francis Drake rescued the majority of the early colonists and took them back to England. Fifteen men were left behind to maintain claim of the island and they were never seen or heard from again. When the other colonists returned to pick up where they left off the bones of one man were found on the land, and nothing else.

2. Croatoan

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

John White, one of the original colonists who survived by going back to England was part of the second trip back to Roanoke and, when returning to find that everyone had vanished, was part of the group to discover the mysterious word "Croatoan" carved in a tree on the land. The Croatoan were a small Native American Group also occupying the land which is now know as North Carolina. It's thought that this group may have been a branch of the larger Roanoke colony.

3. The Secret Map

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The British Museum houses a map drawn by John White himself which offers a clue as to where a good portion of the missing Roanoke settlers ended up. In 2012 researchers used imaging techniques to reveal that a tiny blue and red star had been concealed by a patch of white paper on the map which marked the location of a site some 50 miles inland.

4. The Colonists May Have Been Zombies

Zombie Research Society Researcher Andre Freeman proposes what's probably the wildest theory on the Roanoke mystery yet by suggesting the disappearance of the colonists may have had something to do with zombies. Harvard Archeologist, Lawrence Stager claims to have found evidence of cannibalism at the site which Freeman took one step further. "A sudden undead plague sweeping through the unprepared colony would quickly become a horrific, violent feast, leaving not a single man, woman or child alive," Freeman says.

5. The White Doe

Photo: Henry Howe via Wikimedia Commons

Virginia Dare is documented as being the first child born in America to English parents. She's thought to have survived along with the Croatoan tribe and legend has it that a native witch transformed her into a white doe when she died. Supposedly the ghost of Virginia, in the form of that doe, can be seen on Roanoke Island to this day.

6. Ghosts of Roanoke Island

Photo: Thinkstock

According to the Virginian-Pilot, heavy ghost activity has been reported by dozens of people near a particular Roanoke Island road for years including a ghost that rides a bike. "We were just walking, strolling, and then ... we heard a bike bell," Ellison, and 18-year-old film student at NYU quotes to the Virginian-Pilot. "This is three or four in the morning. It was a very urgent sound. It sounded like it was getting closer. It was right on us."

We may never truly know what happened on Roanoke Island all those many years ago, but it's certainly fascinating to think about.

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