Exploring The History of the Lost Colony of Roanoke

The new season of American Horror Story centers on the mystery and mythology surrounding the lost colony of Roanoke. Here are some books that aim to separate fact from fiction in this enduring puzzle.


A Kingdom Strange: The Brief and Tragic History of the Lost Colony of Roanoke (4/5 stars, currently priced at $11.99)

In 1587, John White and 117 men, women, and children landed off the coast of North Carolina on Roanoke Island, hoping to carve a colony from fearsome wilderness. A mere month later, facing quickly diminishing supplies and a fierce native population, White sailed back to England in desperation. He persuaded the wealthy Sir Walter Raleigh, the expedition’s sponsor, to rescue the imperiled colonists, but by the time White returned with aid the colonists of Roanoke were nowhere to be found. He never saw his friends or family again.

In this gripping account based on new archival material, colonial historian James Horn tells for the first time the complete story of what happened to the Roanoke colonists and their descendants. A compellingly original examination of one of the great unsolved mysteries of American history, A Kingdom Strange will be essential reading for anyone interested in our national origins.


The Lost Rocks: The Dare Stones and the Unsolved Mystery of Sir Walter Raleigh’s Lost Colony (4.5/5 stars, currently priced at $7.99)

What if the 1587 Lost Colony of Roanoke was not lost? What if the survivors left North Carolina’s Roanoke Island and found their way to Georgia? That is the scenario scholars contemplated when a series of engraved stones were found in the 1930’s. The first, found near the Chowan River in North Carolina, claimed that Eleanor Dare and a few other settlers had made their way inland after an Indian attack wiped out the rest of the colony – including Eleanor’s daughter, Virginia — the first English child born in North America — and her husband Ananias. The rest, more than forty in number, told a fantastic tale of how the survivors made their way overland, first to South Carolina, and then to Georgia. If true, North Carolina stood to lose one of its most cherished historical legends. Author David La Vere weaves the story of the Dare Stones with that of the Lost Colony of Roanoke, in a tale that will fire your imagination and give you pause at the same time. The question: Was the greatest American mystery finally solved? The Lost Rocks is published by Burnt Mill Press of Wilmington, North Carolina.


History’s Greatest Mysteries: The Lost Colony of Roanoke (4/5 stars, currently priced at $2.99)

Nearly 20 years before Jamestown was settled, the English established one of the earliest colonies in North America around the Chesapeake Bay region, until the colony had over 100 inhabitants. Like other early settlements, Roanoke struggled to survive in its infancy, to the extent that the colony’s leader, John White, sailed back to England in 1587 in an effort to bring more supplies and help. However, the attempts to bring back supplies were thwarted by the Spanish in the midst of the Anglo-Spanish War going on at the time, and it was not until 1590 that White reached Roanoke again.

What White found when he came back to Roanoke led to one of the most enduring mysteries in American history. Despite the fact he had left over 100 people in Roanoke in 1587, White returned to literally nothing, with all traces of the settlement gone and no evidence of fighting or anything else that might have explained the disappearance of the inhabitants. White found the word “Croatoan” carved on a tree nearby, which he figured might mean the colonists moved to a nearby island, but he was unable to conduct a search expedition there. The Spanish also searched for the colony in hopes of wiping it out themselves, but none of the Europeans could find Roanoke’s colonists or explain what happened to the “lost” colony.

The fate of Roanoke has fascinated people for over 400 years, and there is no shortage of theories regarding the disappearance of the colony. In addition to the possibility that the settlers moved to Croatoan island, most theories speculate that they were either wiped out by nearby Native Americans or assimilated among a tribe; as historian John Lawson put it, “A farther Confirmation of this we have from the Hatteras Indians, who either then lived on Ronoak-Island, or much frequented it. These tell us, that several of their Ancestors were white People, and could talk in a Book, as we do; the Truth of which is confirm’d by gray Eyes being found frequently amongst these Indians, and no others. They value themselves extremely for their Affinity to the English, and are ready to do them all friendly Offices.” Regardless, the murky chain of events have ensured that the mystery still lingers.

History’s Greatest Mysteries: The Lost Colony of Roanoke comprehensively analyzes the history of the settlement and discusses the mysteries surrounding its disappearance. Along with pictures and a bibliography, you will learn about Roanoke like you never have before, in no time at all.

*Includes pictures depicting important people, places, and events.
*Includes excerpts from firsthand accounts of explorers and colonists associated with Roanoke.
*Discusses the theories and evidence about what happened to the lost colony.
*Includes a bibliography for further reading.
*Includes a table of contents.


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