Colony Research Group
Genealogy ~ DNA ~ Archaeology
Edition March 2012
February 2011 newsletter, we wrote extensively about the excavations
performed by Dr. David Phelps, now deceased, when he was the archaeologist
at East Carolina University (ECU) back in the 1990s. In one particularly
revealing dig, in Buxton, Phelps found what he believed to be a workshop
dating from about 1650 to the early 1700s. Items found there suggest a
strong trading relationship with the English. The lack of household debris
dismisses the idea that this was a household.
did find 2 small undated coins with holes drilled in each end. One coin,
he initially said, was similar to a 1563 coin found on Roanoke Island
about 50 miles to the north. Later, after taking the coins back to the
lab, he found that they were copper farthings and insignia that dates
their production to the 1649-1685 timeframe. There were also some pottery
pieces that Phelps felt were older and might have been brought down from
Roanoke Island by the colonists. However, these items could also have been
trade items, given as gifts or scavenged. Because the context in which
they were found was a "workshop" area, not a household, with no
sign of inhabitation, it's impossible to draw any further conclusions
on this and adjacent sites several times. In other digs he found the
infamous ring now named the "Kendall Ring," although doubts
certainly exist as to the Kendall family identification. The style of the
ring however does strongly suggest Elizabethan, which would be prior to
1603 when Queen Elizabeth died. We wrote about this in the August 2011
Newsletter. While this ring is certainly an important Elizabethan English
item, it does not provide us with further context due to the location in
which it was found.
snaphaunce discovered by Phelps is another story entirely, however. At the
time it was found, it was not able to be solidly dated. Phelps
provisionally dated it as 1605-1620 due to the workshop context. However,
recently, Baylus Brooks worked with several experts, as detailed in an
article published in our February 2011 newsletter, and dated the
snaphaunce to the 1584 period. Phelps dated it in the later timeframe
because it was found among 1650 period refuse and it was felt that this
article was used in the 1650s, or until that time. Of course, we don't
know by whom, or in what context. The Croatoan were armed by at least
1675, perhaps earlier, and perhaps with older hardware sent to America by
the British for trade purposes.
Colony Research Group, seeking to expand upon the knowledge and evidence
gathered by Dr. Phelps, exclusively funded, sponsored and hosted a total
of four separate archaeological digs from 2009-2011 (inclusive) which have
covered several properties on different areas of Hatteras Island. In some
areas, we found no evidence of colonists. In some areas, we found evidence
of archaic habitation, and in others, yes, we did indeed find evidence of
important not to reveal the exact locations of the various pieces of
evidence unearthed. As we mentioned in our article in the February 2011
Newsletter, there are treasure hunters out there, and at least one of them
has targeted Hatteras Island sites under the guise of
"archaeology," looking for the Lost Colonists in a very
destructive manner. We must protect these valuable sites from this type of
violation at all costs.
cumulative knowledge of what we have learned through our digs, combined
with what was learned previously combines to make a powerful statement
about the colonists.
different properties and locations were excavated, either with tests pits
or with fully blown dig sites over several weeks between 2009 and 2011,
inclusive. Some sites were barren, others were very productive.
several finds that, when taken alone, were remarkable, but when taken
together are of far more significance.
items that date to the late 16th century were found. In particular, a
portion of a scabbard, several items of pottery, another partial
snaphaunce, a wax seal, shoe buckle and a musket ball found in a Native
(or mixed European/Native) burial.
scabbard is particularly important, because it was actually found under
the midden, which serves to date the entire midden for us with an
"earliest" age. The photo below is likely the tip of a sword or
dagger, which would be placed into the scabbard which is a sheath.
artifacts were found in a location with a wattle and daub structure, the
type of construction that the colonists used on Roanoke. A piece of the
excavated wattle and daub with an embedded piece of broken pottery is
being shown below. The pottery type dates this particular piece of wattle
and daub from the second construction layer in the early 1700s, which
makes sense, as we found horse bones in this same layer, indicating
and daub is particularly difficult to date, because it can be repaired and
reused, an early form of recycling. We did find wattle and daub in the
lower layers as well.