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A Closer, More Accurate Look at the Lost Colony

A few years ago, I wrote a post on the Lost Colony asking if Sir Walter Raleigh's second expedition, headed in part by Ralph Lane, set the third colony up for failure. Since then, I've done a lot of reading and have had conversations with individuals involved in researching the Lost Colony, and I now realize I barely understood the complexities involved in the interactions between Lane's expedition and the natives, and the disastrous chain of events--even mutiny--that lead to the disappearance of little Virginia Dare and the others left stranded on the shores of Roanoke Island in 1587. What I've learned since has been an eye opener. And there's still more to learn.

In addition to Thomas Harriot's A Brief and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia, I'm currently reading Roanoke: Solving the Mystery of the Lost Colony by Lee Miller. In it, Miller examines the root causes of the colony's disappearance in light of facts that cannot be separated such as circumstances in England, impending war with Spain, and the actions of Ralph Lane and others who accompanied him willingly or unwillingly on the second expedition.

Miller provides facts, so many of them, that paint a vivid picture of the life the colonists left behind, the subterfuge that left them stranded on an island on which they were not meant to go, (and the disasters that nearly derailed their efforts before they even reached the island), the shipwreck along North Carolina's treacherous coast that lead to the shortage of supplies, and the dealings Ralph Lane and his men had with the Secotans and other nations on Roanoke and along the Pamlico Sound. For anyone interested in Raleigh's expeditions, Miller's Roanoke is a must read. We took it with us during a recent trip to Manteo to visit Fort Raleigh. Knowledge gleaned from its pages enhanced our visit along with a conversation we had with a gentleman involved in the search for the colony.

There is far more to this story than most people know, and that is, perhaps, what keeps the mystery of the Lost Colony alive.

Marker at Fort Raleigh. Click to Enlarge
Shoreline along Fort Raleigh. What once had been land is now covered with water.
Manteo, a charming island village of cottages and white picket fences.