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The Lost Colony Research Group

Genealogy ~ DNA ~ Archaeology


Special Edition  March 2012


 ~The Lost Colonists~


In the 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.

Phelps 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

Phelps dug 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.  

The 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.




The Lost 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 the colonists. 


It's 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.  

The 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.  

Several 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.  

There were several finds that, when taken alone, were remarkable, but when taken together are of far more significance.  

Several 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.


The 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.  




These 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 domesticated horses.  



Wattle 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.  


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The Lost Colony Research Group is in NO WAY affiliated with The Lost Colony Center for Science and Research.  The Lost Colony Y-DNA and MT-DNA projects at Family Tree DNA are NOT IN ANY WAY  affiliated with The Lost Colony Center for Science and Research, regardless of what their links imply.


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Copyright © 2008 Last modified: April 04, 2012



The art work on this website is my (Nelda L. Percival) original art work and has not been released to any person or organization other then for the use of Lost Colony Research Group and the store front owned by the same. My art work has never been part of the Lost Colony Center for Science and Research's property. My art used here and at the store front was drawn precisely for the projects run by Roberta Estes and ownership has not been otherwise released. This project also uses the artwork of Dr. Ana Oquendo Pabon, the copyright to which she has retained as well. Other art works are the copyrights of the originators and may not be copied without their permission.
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