What Happened to the Lost Colony of Roanoke?

The island of Roanoke, located in North Carolina near the Outer Banks is home to one of our nation's most infamous mysteries. A group of British settlers who arrived on the island in 1587 vanished with almost no clue as to what happened to them or where they went. To this day, experts and historians have no definitive answers for the questions the Roanoke colony left behind. There are however, many theories. 

Lost Colony of Roanoke

Some believe the colonists were either kidnapped, killed, or possibly taken in by a local Native American tribe in the area. The leader of the expedition, John White, left for England shortly after arriving on Roanoke with 115 other people, aiming to return soon after with supplies. Smith was met with many delays in his attempt to get back to the colony from England, and he wasn't able to return until 1590. Upon his return he found the colony completely deserted, with all buildings dismantled and removed, and no signs of a battle or struggle. The only clues left behind were the words "CROATOAN" carved on a post and "C-R-O" carved into a tree nearby. This has led many to believe that the settlers sought refuge and integrated with the local Croatoan tribe on Hatteras Island, to the south. 

Another theory is a massacre of the colonists by the Spanish, who had destroyed a French colony in South Carolina and one in present-day Florida some years before. 


Other theories posit that the colonists froze, starved to death, or succumbed to any number of New World diseases that their immune systems had not yet encountered. However, no remains have been found at the original site, nor any remains that can be linked to the Lost Colony at other sites nearby. 

Virginia Dare

The mystery of the Lost Colony of Roanoke has survived for nearly 430 years with no conclusive evidence as to what became of the 115 souls that vanished in the years between 1587 and 1590. 

Do you have a theory about Roanoke? Have you been to the island? Let us know what you think in the comments below! 


UPDATE: One of our fans wrote in his personal theory and unique connection to Roanoke!

"A pretty unique theory on the Lost Colony. My girlfriend is from Virgilina, so I can verify that they have a unique accent up there, I make fun of her and her mom all the time because they put a "L" in "Roxboro". They say "Roxburl". And her dad says "I'll have to come check that oat".

The Sappony Indians that live north of Roxboro NC claim to have ancestral ties to the lost colony. The Sappony's are a pretty unique group because their original language has been lost over time and they are not recognized as an "indian" group because they integrated with white people many years ago. People from Virgilina, a town on the Virginia and North Carolina line, just north or Roxboro have a very distinct accent that almost sounds a lot like the "High Tider" accent of the Outer Banks. They pronounce "out" as "oat", "about" as "aboat", "house" as "hoase", etc. There is one theory that the Lost Colony was separated and some stayed around the coast while others went west. If that theory was true, and if the Sappony's claim of being related to the Lost Colony were true, it would make sense that the people from the coast and from Virgilina have the same accent. To add to that, if you look at the manifest of the Lost Colony, a lot of the names are the same or similar to families of the Sappony tribe and Virgilina area: Johnson, Coleman, Stewart, Martin, Talley, etc." - Geoff W.