Lost 400-year-old village of Roanoke could have stood in Elizabethan Gardens

The mystery surrounding the Lost Colony, Roanoke and Sir Walter Raleigh’s early explorers is one that’s fascinated generations of North Carolinians.

Next week, archaeologists will dig in the Elizabethan Gardens with hopes of finding new evidence of the lost “Algonquian village of Roanoke” — which was home to Sir Walter Raleigh’s explorers in 1584.

Last summer, the First Colony Foundation team uncovered tantalizing clues in the ongoing mystery. They dug up shards of Algonquian pottery dating back to the 1500s, as well as a ring of copper wire they believe could have been an earring that once adorned a warrior from an indigenous tribe.

“Finding domestic pottery – the type used for cooking – in close proximity to an apparent piece of Native American jewelry, strongly confirms that we are digging in the midst of a settlement,” says Eric Klingelhofer, the First Colony Foundation’s Vice President for Research.

And Roanoke is the only known village at that site.

A copper ring could mean a village once stood in the Elizabethan Gardens

Historians say copper had an almost spiritual significance for the indigenous tribes.

“They prized the metal the way the English valued gold and silver. For example, tribal chiefs would honor brave warriors with trinkets made of beaten copper, indicating the value native peoples placed on it,” said a release from the First Colony Foundation.

The ring, in particular, supports the idea they may have found remnants of Roanoke.

“Made of drawn copper, the wire was almost certainly brought to America by English explorers as part of their trade goods. Local natives did not have the technology to produce such rounded strands. And neither the French nor the Spanish ventured as far north as Roanoke Island to trade,” said the foundation.

The mystery of the Lost Colony is not only where the settlers went, but also where the 117 men, women and children lived while on Roanoke Island.

Archaeologists will dig for around a week, starting March 4. It’s the first of two excavations planned for this spring. The next one will be at Fort Raleigh. You can watch for updates on the First Colony Foundation’s website.


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