Rapier Lost Colonist
Outer Banks Voice
This partial handle of an Elizabethan rapier is an important find archaeologists uncovered on Hatteras Island in early April.

Evidence of ‘Wonderful Brotherhood’ Between Croatan Tribe and Lost Colonists


If you visit the Outer Banks, you’ll hear about the lost colonists—locals even put on dramatic productions about the group who landed in the Roanoke Island area in 1585. In early April, volunteer archaeologists uncovered “overwhelming circumstantial evidence” that some of those lost colonists lived for generations on Hatteras Island—a barrier island off the coast of North Carolina—and assimilated among the Croatan Tribe, reported the Outer Banks Voice.

On April 10, Mark Horton, professor of archaeology at the University of Bristol, United Kingdom, said that two “star finds” along with supporting artifacts helped build the case that something of “exceptional importance for American history” had been unearthed” concerning the relationship between the lost colonists and the tribe.

Those items include a rusted piece of a rapier handle and a small slate writing tablet, which appears to still have the letter “M” scratched on it.

“If you read the history, it’s clear. Manteo (the Native American leader) is from Croatoan on Hatteras Island, and it was the only tribe that didn’t kill the colonists, and fed them,” Scott Dawson, a citizen of Hatteras and founder of the Croatoan Archaeological Society, told the Voice.

This watercolor painting of Manteo was done by John White. (Wikipedia)

The Voice recounts the story of how the colonists arrived in 1584, and Governor John White left in 1587. His mission was to go back to England for supplies for the colony. When he returned to Roanoke Island three years later, he discovered the letters CRO carved into a tree and the word Croatan carved into a post, but none of the colonists remained.

“It was a message indicating the colonists had simply gone with Manteo down to Hatteras, where the Croatan Tribe lived,” Dawson told the Voice. “If someone leaves you a note saying meet them at Burger King, why would you go to Wendy’s? And when you understand this wonderful brotherhood that existed among these Natives and colonists, right from the very start, along with the poor relationship that existed between the colonists and the mainland Natives, it makes sense.”

This British Museum photo of a map shows Roanoke Island (the small pink area). The lost colonists joined the Croatan Tribe on the narrow island to the south. This map was drawn by John White in 1585. (Wikipedia)

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