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The Lost Colony Research Group

Genealogy ~ DNA ~ Archaeology


Special Edition  March 2012


 ~The Lost Colonists~




Another very interesting discovery is the wax seal fob. The wax seal jury is still out on date but it is remarkably similar to one found at the 'Cupids' colony (established in Newfoundland in 1612) dig site and thought to be pre-1650. We know it's not Elizabethan (1558-1603) as Elizabethan fobs tended to be signet rings not 'stamps.'




The last item is a piece of an pipe believed to be English based on the fact that the hole appears to be wire bored and not created from a reed. Possibly made from Marland Clay or Kaolin, it may be one of the earliest known examples and could pre-date 1600 but it needs to be tested for composition to be certain it is English and not native. Marland and Kaolin are not found anywhere remotely near the eastern seaboard in the US, and are stock clays for pipes in England. Marland is from a location 20 miles south of Bideford.


The context of these archaeological finds is even more important. The location where these items were found contains both Native and English items intermixed in the same stratum, which tells us that cohabitation was occurring and over a very long period of time. Also, this was a homestead environment, complete with midden. So we have, for the very first time, multiple items that date from the time of the colonists, intermixed with native items from the same timeframe, then a very long gap, more than 50 years with no new European artifacts. In upper layers, European artifacts from a later time period are found, showing continuous habitation by Native people but two distinct habitations periods for Europeans, based on the artifacts and the absence of any new artifacts for a long period of time that corresponds to the time between 1587 and 1650-1700. Finally, in the more recent layers, Native pottery and artifacts disappear with only contemporary European/American items remaining, and then the site is abandoned. Had it not been abandoned and reclaimed by the natural forces, it would not have been preserved for us to find it today.

At the end of the dig season, the team always meets and has a semi-formal "end of dig" debriefing. The following information is taken from part of this summary provided by the archaeology team from the UofB in conjunction with American research by members of the Lost Colony Research Group:

In summary, it looks like there is a prosperous Native or mixed community living here in the 17th century [1600s], but living in the traditional Native way. Habitation, possibly English/Native co-habitation, reaches back into the late 16th century [1500s] with the piece of iron under the midden. In the 18th century [1700s], cohabitation clearly exists, as a great deal of Englishware is found and then in the upper layer, the Indian pottery eventually disappears and is replaced by a more typical American homestead artifacts, followed by the well which represents the 19th century [1800s]. After that time, the area appears to have been abandoned.

The area is wooded today and is flanked by two large trees which is why we selected this area as a dig site. The trees indicate that this area has been stable and relatively undisturbed for a long period of time. The area is also provided some degree of protection from the elements by surrounding dunes that are now covered by forest.

In summary, evidence exists from multiple layers at this site that the inhabitants who occupied this location in the 1600s [17th century], were possibly of mixed heritage, and are found in the exact location where John White indicates that the colonists went when they left Roanoke Island. English artifacts from that period have been found at this site in the same strata with the burials, and other artifacts possibly dating to the same timeframe. The Kendall ring and gunlock excavated by David Phelps were been found in/near the same location. [Location intentionally removed from this public article.]

In addition to Lawson's records, other records from the 1600s indicate that adjacent Indian tribes told early explorers that the English colonists were absorbed by the Indians. This evidence certainly cumulatively suggests that Lawson's 1701 grey-eyed Hatteras Indians who related that their ancestors were white people who could talk in a book were the descendants of the Lost Colonists who intermarried with the Native people and lived traditional Native lives with the remnants of their English items brought with them from England. In the late 1600s, about 100 years later, more European settlers arrived bringing items manufactured after 1600/1650 which we find in upper layers.

Research on the locations where the archaeology digs occurred revealed critical information that further confirmed the find of the Hatteras Indians on the land where we were digging. In fact, the earliest land grants on Hatteras clearly tell us that there were two Indian villages, and our reconstruction of these grants, reassembled as a puzzle, confirms the location of one of the villages exactly where we had found the midden and the homestead. The documents confirm it historically, and the archaeology finds confirm that not only were Indians living there, but very early English too, in a village abandoned by the Native people shortly after 1710. After this land was granted in the early 1700s, the two Native villages were reduced to only one. Therefore, the mixed English/Native artifacts had to have originated prior to 1710 when the land on Hatteras was granted to Europeans.

While all of this evidence is not one particular smoking gun, most archaeological finds are more an accumulation of puzzle pieces that tell a consistent story, as opposed to finding one definitive item. This information tells us that the colonists did move to Hatteras, to the Buxton area, and they did mingle and live with the Indians. What it doesn't tell us is what happened next.

Our historical and genealogical research has yielded important clues as to the next piece of the puzzle....and as you might expect we are actively pursuing the answer.

Our next archaeological adventure will occur in 2012 in a new location with a new partner. Stay tuned.

 Changing Horses

 The Lost Colony Research Group initially invited the University of Bristol, in Bristol, England to function as our archaeological research partner. One reason was that we felt they had expertise in British history and artifacts from the time period of the colonists. The Lost Colony Research Group solely funded, hosted and sponsored the digs in their entirety from 2009 through 2011, coordinated by Andy Powell in England who recruited the University of Bristol, and Anne Poole, our Research Director here in the States. We are grateful to the University of Bristol for their involvement in our process. However, after the 2011 season, we felt that that the time was right to make the change to an American based institution for our ongoing project.

We are very pleased to announce our liaison with the East Carolina University at Greenville, under the direction of Dr. Charles Ewen. Dr. Ewen has spent his entire career focused on the archaeological sites in Eastern North Carolina, manages the Phelps Archaeology Lab at ECU and is widely known and respected.

During our 2009-2011 digs, we found evidence that the colonists indeed did live on Hatteras Island after their unfortunate 1587 abandonment on Roanoke Island. This conclusion was, in part, due to the English artifacts found in a context of homesteads complete with Native artifacts from the same period. There would be no new English artifacts introduced until significantly after the Jamestown era, and resultant trade, which would not have occurred for many years after the settlement of Jamestown, likely around 1650, just as Phelps said. To date, our digs confirm this theory. Settlement did not occur on Hatteras for another 50 years, until approximately 1700.

One of the challenges we faced with the University of Bristol partnership was the conservation and permanent placement of the artifacts. The sheer quantity prevented taking artifacts back to Bristol, and they needed to be available to study. The photo below shows some of the artifacts from the 2010 dig, bagged in groups with locations marked on each bag. The 2011 dig produced significantly more artifacts than 2010.

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Copyright © 2008 Last modified: March 31, 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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