The Lost Colony of Roanoke

It’s still lost, apparently, but historian Eric Klingelhofer has proposed a new theory that suggests the colony split up to better survive whatever catastrophe befell it. Some of them, he says, may have relocated westward to the mouth of the Chowan River.

A clue uncovered in a long-forgotten, centuries-old map of the area called “La Virginea Pars”—drawn by the colony’s governor John White—kicked off a reexamination of the fate of the lost colonists. An artist and employee of explorer Sir Walter Raleigh, White was later appointed governor of the new lands; he was also the grandfather of Virginia Dare, the first English child born in the New World.

 Two patches on the map made Brent Lane of the First Colony Foundation (the group behind the latest archaeological trip and a National Geographic grantee) in Durham, North Carolina, wonder if they might hide something beneath.

Scientists at the British Museum looked into the patches and discovered a tiny red-and-blue symbol. Could it have indicated a fort or a secret emergency location?

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