The Lost Colony of Roanoke

The Lost Colony of Roanoke: Or Is It?

The Unsolved Mystery of the Lost Colony of Roanoke

As the fog lifts off Roanoke Island at dawn, an unsettling stillness prevails. The land seems almost sentient, hiding a secret it dare not reveal. At Phoenyx Travels, we don’t just travel; we journey through stories, through mysteries. And today, we delve into one of America’s oldest and most captivating stories—the unsolved mystery of the Lost Colony of Roanoke.

historical background of the lost colony of roanoke

Picture it—the year is 1587, an era of exploration and untamed frontiers. A group of settlers from England, fueled by dreams of gold and the excitement at starting a new life, arrives at Roanoke Island off the eastern coast of North Carolina. Little did they know, they were stepping into a story that would remain a mystery to this day. 

The settlement’s founder and governor, John White, brought his wife, daughter, and granddaughter to this New World. During the first difficult founding year of the settlement, Governor John White left for England to request resources and manpower.

CRO carved into a tree - one of the last clues for the Lost Colony of Roanoke.


When he returns three years later in 1590, Governor John White finds the settlement completely abandoned without a trace. His wife, daughter, and granddaughter were gone. Nature had begun reclaiming the land, and the only clues left were the cryptic word “CRO” etched into a nearby tree and the word “CROATOAN” in one of the posts.

Despite the mysterious clues, Gov. John White and his crew had to return to England with absolutely no answers due to an encroaching storm. So begins the mystery of the lost colony of Roanoke.

the theories on the lost colony of roanoke

1. Violent Forces: The Possibility of annihilation

Simmering tensions between the settlers and the Native American tribes could have escalated into deadly conflict. While evidence is sparse, this scenario of violent annihilation continues to loom as a haunting possibility.

2. Natural Forces: Coastal Weather, Disease, and Starvation

The settlers faced more than just human adversaries; the harsh natural environment of North Carolina’s coast was a challenge in itself. From sudden storms and hurricanes to the perilous swells of floodwaters, nature’s wrath could have erased their nascent colony without a trace. Add in the possible threats of disease and starvation, and the settlers found themselves in a battle on multiple fronts.

3. The Legend of the White Doe: Winona Sky and the Croatan Tribe

And then there’s the tale that tantalizes the imagination yet defies easy explanation—the Legend of the White Doe. Virginia Dare, after reportedly becoming one with the Croatan tribe, adopts a new identity: Winona Sky. Her transformation sets the stage for a legend so profound, it merits its own narrative, The Legend of the White Doe.

Native American silhouetted by the setting sun.

Modern-Day Investigations: Unveiling New Layers of Mystery

Research into the perplexing lost colony of Roanoke colonists suggests a compelling possibility: when faced with some unknown calamity, the settlers may have splintered into smaller groups. This approach could be the only conceivable strategy for survival, as no single Native American tribe or village had the resources to support the entire colony. In fact, the colony’s size would have even dwarfed some indigenous villages.

The widely accepted theory has been that the colonists moved 50 miles south to what we now know as Hatteras Island. However, recent studies entertain alternative directions. Some evidence suggests that a portion of the colonists might have ventured westward through Albemarle Sound, reaching the mouth of the Chowan River.

Here, they could have found shelter with a tribe in a well-protected inlet, perhaps even integrating into the fabric of a small, yet strategically positioned, Native American town known as Mettaquem. This town sat at a strategic point at the end of Albemarle Sound, offering routes north toward Virginia and west to the Blue Ridge Mountains. The town was also a known trading hub with other Native American tribes, making it a plausible refuge for the colonists.

personal reflection: a lens reconsidered

As we close the veil on the haunting, complex tapestry of the lost colony of Roanoke, it’s worth pondering an alternative perspective—one that’s perhaps been eclipsed by the allure of its mystery. Could it be that the settlers, rather than vanishing into the mists of history, found a way to preserve their lives through unity with a Native American tribe?

While the allure of the lost colony of Roanoke has captured our collective imagination, this enduring mystery might not have been quite so mysterious if we’d been more accepting of this idea. In a land teeming with unpredictable challenges—both natural and human-made—the survival strategy that makes the most practical sense might be one of assimilation rather than a dramatic, inexplicable disappearance.

What if, instead of perishing at the hands of unseen forces or mythical legends, the settlers found sanctuary with indigenous people? By becoming one with a Native American tribe, the Roanoke colonists would defy extinction, adopting new customs, languages, and ways of living in harmony with the land.

In retracing their steps and unraveling their clues, I can’t help but wonder how our understanding of this story would shift if this alternative outcome had been the widely accepted narrative. In doing so, we not only deepen our understanding of the past but also open up new avenues for meaningful, transformative journeys—both within and without. 


As the dark corners of the lost colony of Roanoke mystery continue to beckon, the story remains, above all, an open invitation—to question, to explore, and to dig deeper into the enigmatic folds of history. Perhaps the answer lies not just in the shadows of the past, but in the collective insights we bring to it today. With each theory examined, each clue unearthed, we add our voice to a centuries-old tale that refuses to be silenced. 

So, what are your thoughts on the enduring mystery of the lost colony of Roanoke? Could they have survived by becoming part of a Native American tribe, or does another theory resonate with you?

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