Map showing Roanoke Island and the surrounding area.

Map showing Roanoke Island and the surrounding area.

Map showing Roanoke Island and the surrounding area.

Map showing Roanoke Island and the surrounding area.

Roanoke Maps

The following maps of the Roanoke Valley in Virginia&aposs Blue Ridge help provide an idea of where the region is located, in addition to providing great information about where things are located within the region.

Nearby Cities

The Roanoke Valley is within a four-hour drive of many major metropolitan areas, including the following cities:

Greensboro, NC - 104 miles
Winston-Salem, NC - 106 miles
Durham, NC - 165 miles
Richmond, VA - 193 miles
Charlotte, NC - 194 miles
Raleigh, NC - 200 miles
Washington, DC - 251 miles
Knoxville, TN - 261 miles
Baltimore, MD - 281 miles
Norfolk, VA - 284 miles
Columbia, SC - 284 miles

With easy access through Interstate 81, US 220, and the Blue Ridge Parkway, traveling to Virginia&aposs Blue Ridge via car is a comfortable drive.

Need help navigating? Refer to our driving directions.

The region also features outstanding air service through the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport.

For information about exploring and navigating within the region, these maps offer great detail about many activities and places of interest, including accommodations, attractions, museums, historic spots, and details about other relevant points in the Roanoke Valley.

Interactive Map

You can utilize this Interactive Map of Virginia&aposs Blue Ridge to mark specific points of interest and get more information to help you plan your trip.

Area Maps

*Virginia&aposs Blue Ridge Map - the primary map of the region with contact information about hotels, attractions, and various places of interest

*Greater Roanoke Valley & Downtown Map - detailed map with information about hotels & attractions in the Roanoke Valley and Downtown Roanoke

Roanoke Valley & Downtown Roanoke Maps - printer-friendly map with information about points of interest in the region

Blue Ridge Parkway Map - a Google map and page with detailed info about the key entry points for the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia&aposs Blue Ridge

Downtown Roanoke Dining & Shopping Map - a detailed look at the spots for shopping and dining in Roanoke&aposs Downtown district

Downtown Roanoke Parking Map - locate all the public lots and receive information about rates and times with this page and interactive map for parking in Downtown Roanoke

Downtown Salem Dining & Shopping Map - a guide to local shops, restaurants and places of interest in Downtown Salem

Appalachian Trail Map - a Google map and page with information about access points, camping shelters, and parking for the Appalachian Trail in Virginia&aposs Blue Ridge

Roanoke Valley Greenways Map - a Google map and page with information about the extensive Greenway system in the Roanoke Valley, includes spots for parking and specific route segments

*These maps are also available in printed versions in the Roanoke Valley Visitor&aposs Guide. Request your free copy.

What Do We Know?

The lost colonists were the third group of English arrivals on North Carolina’s Roanoke Island, settling near the modern-day town of Manteo.

The first group to arrive, in 1584, came to explore and map the land for future groups. A second group, which arrived in 1585, was charged with a military and scientific mission. But this second group's trip was far from peaceful.

"That's where tensions begin [with the local Native American tribes]," said Clay Swindell of the Museum of the Albemarle in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, a member of the archaeology team investigating the colony. He says that this second group was driven out in 1586 by local tribes angry that the colonists were taking up good land and resources.

The third group arrived in 1587. Entire families came with children—17 women and 11 children accompanied a party of 90 men. That meant the group wanted to settle in the New World and was not a military excursion, which would have included only male explorers.

A clue uncovered in a long-forgotten, centuries-old map of the area called "La Virginea Pars" —drawn by the colony's governor John White —kicked off a reexamination of the fate of the lost colonists. An artist and employee of explorer Sir Walter Raleigh, White was later appointed governor of the new lands he was also the grandfather of Virginia Dare, the first English child born in the New World.

A clue uncovered in a long-forgotten map kicked off a reexamination of the fate of the lost colonists.

Two patches on the map made Brent Lane of the First Colony Foundation (the group behind the latest archaeological trip and whose work is supported by National Geographic and the Waitt Grants Programs) in Durham, North Carolina, wonder if they might hide something beneath.

Scientists at the British Museum looked into the patches and discovered a tiny red-and-blue symbol. Could it have indicated a fort or a secret emergency location?

"Our best idea is that parts of Raleigh's exploration in North America were a state secret, and the map 'cover-up' was an effort to keep information from the public and from foreign agents," said Eric Klingelhofer of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, a historian and the principal investigator on the project.

Most researchers think the colonists likely encountered disease—caused by New World microbes their bodies had never encountered before—or violence.

The research team thinks that when the crisis—whatever that may have been—hit, the colonists split up into smaller groups and dispersed.

No single Indian tribe or village could have supported them. They would be even larger than some villages.

"It's a good strategy," he said, explaining that the previous group from 1585 had been ordered to do so if disaster struck. "We don't definitely know that they do, but it's obvious that that's the only way they could have survived. No single Indian tribe or village could have supported them. They would be even larger than some villages—I mean, they were over a hundred people."

The prevailing theory has been that the colonists abandoned Roanoke and traveled 50 miles south to Hatteras Island , which was then known as Croatoan Island. But, Klingelhofer said, what if they went in another direction?

What if some of the colonists traveled west via Albemarle Sound to the mouth of the Chowan River , to a protected inlet occupied by a sympathetic tribe? (See "What 'Sleepy Hollow' Didn't Tell Us About Roanoke's Lost Colony." )

Furthermore, archaeologists have identified the nearby site of a small Native American town named Mettaquem, which may have adopted some of the colonists. Klingelhofer said that while researchers don't know much about the Native American town and its inhabitants, its existence has been verified.

"It's a very strategic place, right at the end of Albemarle Sound," he said. "You can go north up the Chowan River to Virginia or west to the Blue Ridge Mountains. They were big trading partners" with other Native American tribes.

After the map's secret was revealed, Klingelhofer, along with the First Colony Foundation, which studies the first attempts at colonization in the New World, proposed a return trip to the area, with a twist. This time, shovels would have 21st-century helpers—magnetometers and ground-penetrating radar (GPR).

Using Modern Technology

Malcolm LeCompte , a research associate at Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina, was responsible for the addition of GPR in the archaeological search for what happened to the lost colonists of Roanoke.

The process began earlier this year with a satellite survey of the site.

"What we do is we get the oldest maps we can find—so we can get a historic sense of what was there and what's there now—and orient them," LeCompte said. The point is to compare "what may have been there in the past to what is there now."

Researchers look for similarities between the old maps and the current geography of the area. Once they identify where the spots on the map correspond with today's landscape, a painstaking process of laying out a grid and systematically searching it with their GPR ensues.

The technology emits radio waves into the ground and measures the echo as the signal bounces off of various things buried underground. Essentially, it measures the depth that signals travel before hitting something that causes a measurable bounce back. In other words, signals potentially indicate a hidden object underground.

Metal objects—like the iron cannons that have been found at the site—act like "giant antennas." Graves and coffins are also detectable, because they contain voids with different densities and poorer conductive properties than the surrounding soil.

LeCompte and his colleagues found a previously undetected pattern that may indicate the presence of one or more structures, possibly made of wood, under about three feet (a meter) of soil.

"I don't know if it's one or a group [of structures]," he said, adding that they "could be joined or they could be close together." Perhaps the wood of the structures collapsed over time, leaving impressions in the surrounding soil, LeCompte speculated.

The Museum of the Albemarle's Swindell suggested the use of a proton magnetometer to enable the researchers to double-check their GPR findings. Much more sensitive than a metal detector, the device can spot objects buried about 13 feet (four meters) underground.

The device measures distortions of the Earth's magnetic field due to the presence of various objects buried underground.

"We're looking for anything that affects the local magnetic field," Swindell stressed. "That could be things like burn pits."

Swindell, for his part, thinks there may also be remains of a palisades that would have been used by farmers to keep wild animals away from crops.

The presence of the buried structure and the fence strongly indicate that there was some sort of colonial presence in the area. What complicates the story further is the presence of later colonial sites in the area through the 1700s.

Unfortunately, neither piece of technology has shed light on the role of Native American populations in the area. That's a puzzle that remains to be solved.

In the days of the Roanoke Colony, relations with the local Native Americans were mixed.

Roanoke was geographically located in the crux of sociopolitical friction between the Secotan —who held sway over Roanoke—and the Chowanoke , who controlled the nearby waterways.

Tensions were especially high between the colonists and the Secotan tribe.

"There is no doubt that there was a lot of hostility," Klingelhofer said. "Not all the tribes were hostile, but some of them were hostile. They felt imposed upon. There was fighting between [the groups]"—both among the tribes, and between some of the native peoples and the English settlers.

The area does seem to hold clues to contact between local tribes and European colonists in the 16th and 17th centuries.

It didn't help that the English attempted to explore the area multiple times. The group that arrived prior to the lost colonists were driven back to England, which meant when the ill-fated third group of colonists showed up, some sour feelings remained.

"It would not surprise me that the Secotan would want to be done and get rid of the English," Swindell said.

Whether groups of Secotan banded together to rid themselves of what they saw as interlopers is anyone's guess, he said.

The area does seem to hold clues to contact between local tribes and European colonists in the 16th and 17th centuries.

The next step in solving this age-old American mystery? "We have to go in and dig some holes, I guess," Swindell said.

New Mystery Fort… Lost Colony?

By Scott Dawson

The new discovery on John White’s 1585 map is exciting, but the connection between it and the 1587 ‘lost’ colony is not supported in the primary sources. The fort is far more likely to be connected with the 1585 voyage, and was possibly never even built.

In archaeology, everything is about context, and in history, the same thing is true.

In the current media, a lot of hype has been made about a cherry-picked phrase from one of John White’s writings stating a possibility of the colony moving “50 miles into the main” from Roanoke Island.

I would like to take this opportunity to explain the context, and then to dispute the recent claims of the press regarding the 1587 colony.

A Modern-Day Example

I am going to start you out with an analogy — one that you can ponder before I present the historical facts from the primary sources.

Imagine you are married with kids.

Your spouse and children are going to meet you at a restaurant that evening for dinner.

You cannot ride with them because you are coming from work to meet them. Before you left for work earlier that morning, there was some talk of going to Café 12 in Avon.

You have to come home to change clothes first before meeting them for dinner, so you ask your spouse to leave a note of what restaurant they decide on, and you will meet them there.

You come home from work to change clothes and find a note that says, “We’re going to the Shipwreck Grill in Buxton.”

Will you head on over to the Shipwreck Grill, or the Café 12?

The answer is obvious. You’d go to the Shipwreck Grill. It would make no sense to go to one place when your family has left you a note that they’ve gone to another place.

Café 12 has the same context as the now over-hyped phrase “50 miles in to the main” (or Bertie County). Shipwreck Grill represents Croatoan, or modern day Hatteras Island from Buxton to Hatteras Village.

I am now going to present to you what is being ignored, and has been ignored for far too long — the actual FACTS and CLUES surrounding the ‘lost’ colony.

1584 – The First Voyage – Barlowe and Amadas

The first 16 th century English voyage — and most forgotten voyage — is that of Arthur Barlowe and Phillip Amadas in 1584.

Barlowe wrote about sailing along the “main” looking for an entrance.

The “main” in the 16th century sometimes referred to the coast, not the mainland.

Barlowe sailed in through the inlet of Chacandepeco, which is Algonquian for “that which is deep and becomes shallow.”

The inlet was located between modern day Buxton and Avon on Hatteras Island, just barely north of Buxton. Barlowe entered this inlet and landed on an island that he described as having a sea to the north and the south, and running from east to west for 20 miles. This was modern day Buxton to Hatteras, and the island was then called “Croatoan.”

The purpose of the voyage was to find a place to raid Spanish ships as they made their way back to Spain full of gold and silver taken from the southern areas of the New World.

During Amadas and Barlowe’s stay, they spent only one night on Roanoke Island during the entire 1584 voyage. The rest of the six week stay was at Croatoan. It was on this voyage that they met Manteo and Wanchese, two natives who were later taken to England. The trade and the relationship of brotherhood between the Croatoan and the English that began on this voyage is an important context to remember.

1585 – The Second Voyage – Grenville and Lane

The next voyage was in 1585 and lasted 11 months.

In those days, New Year’s Day fell on March 25th, not Jan 1st, so the 1585 settlement actually spilled a few months into 1586.

This second English voyage to the New World was led by Sir Richard Grenville. This voyage was not the reconnaissance mission of 1584.

With a fleet of seven ships and over 600 men on their way to the New World to establish a military sronghold/settlement to use against the Spanish, this voyage was about war!

This expedition saw the return of Manteo and Wanchese to their native homeland, and took the English fleet to Croatoan.

Some of the fleet arrived at the New World prior to Grenville arriving. One of the first things Grenville mentions in his writings — the log of his ship, The Tiger — is how 32 men from his fleet had been living on Croatoan for 20 days before his ship arrived. The Tiger actually ran aground at Wokokon (Ocracoke), and due to this shipwreck, Richard Grenville left with all but 105 men to go raid the Azores and make up for lost goods caused by the unfortunate turn of events. Grenville took all of the ships with him except a few small boats and a pinnace (medium/small ship), and he left military captain Ralph Lane in charge.

Lane ended up torching a mainland village called Aguscogoc over a supposedly stolen cup. He started a war with the Secotan tribe and killed their chief, Wingina, under a flag of truce by shooting him in the back twice and then beheading him.

The Secotan were also enemies of the Croatoan. In 1584, the Croatoan people told Barlowe that their chief, Menatonan, had been wounded fighting against Wingina in 1582. Manteo, who was Croatoan, and his Croatoan friends helped Lane ambush and kill Wingina. During this voyage, Lane and his men had also been attacked by a tribe called the Mandoag, who were allies of the Secotan. The Mandoag lived in or around — guess where! — Bertie County.

After about 10 months, Lane and his men were starving. Lane sent Captain Edward Stafford and 20 men to live at Croatoan while he stayed at Roanoke Island with the rest of the men. Lane sent Stafford and his crew to Croatoan with instructions to feed themselves and to be on the lookout for Grenville’s fleet that was supposed to return with supplies.

Lane sent Stafford there, because the Croatoan were their allies/friends. It was Stafford who spotted Sir Francis Drake with his fleet in June of 1586. Drake happened to be on his way back to England from raiding the Spanish colonies in Florida. Drake weighed anchor off of Hatorask, modern day Bodie Island.

When Lane met Drake he asked for guns, men, and sea captains. Lane stated that he wanted to build a “series of forts along the rivers leading into the maine” to crush his enemies (Remember this!). Drake agreed to every demand Lane had and loaded up a ship full of supplies and men. This ship was called the Francis and it sank in a storm before Lane could implement his plans. After this incident, Lane and his company left for England with Drake. Lane blamed his failure on Grenville for not returning in time with supplies.

1586 – The Third Voyage

Less than two weeks after Drake and Lane left, Grenville arrived with supplies. This is considered the 3 rd English Voyage of the 16 th Century. Grenville had no clue where Lane was and left 15 men with enough supplies for two years on Roanoke Island to hold the fort, literally. These poor guys were attacked by the Secotan and two were killed while the rest were chased off. We know this because the Croatoan, allies/friends to the English, told the story to the next voyage in 1587.

1587 – The Fourth Voyage

The now famous fourth voyage of the ‘lost’ colony headed by John White in 1587, intended to go to the Chesapeake Bay and settle in a deep harbor. Both Drake and Grenville had already experienced shipwrecks off the Outer Banks and a deep port made much more sense for a colony.

The Outer Banks were a great place to loot ships, but not to build a city. However, White needed to stop at Roanoke to get the 15 men left by Grenville.

Because the sounds and inlets around Roanoke are so shallow, the ships had to sit offshore while small boats were taken in to Roanoke. When White reached Roanoke he found the skeleton of one of the 15 men. Within days of being on Roanoke, one of the 1587 colonists, George Howe, was killed while alone crabbing in the sound. When this happened, White sent Edward Stafford to Croatoan to find out what was going on. White recorded the following:

“On the 30th of July Master Stafford and 20 of our men passed by water to the island of Croatoan with Manteo who had his mother and many of his kindred dwelling in that island, of whom we hoped to understand some news of our 15 men but especially to learn the disposition of the country towards us, and to renew our old friendship with them.”

Again, we see the brotherhood between the Croatoan and the English.

The primary sources tell us about Stafford’s visit to Croatoan in 1587.

The Croatoan hosted Stafford and his men to a feast and told them what had happened to George Howe and the 15 men from the year before. The Croatoan told how the 15 men were attacked by the Secotan tribe (not a surprise), and the Secotan killed two of the English and chased off the other 13.

Incidentally, those other 13 men are the real ‘lost colonists’ in this whole story, because their final whereabouts are truly a mystery.

While at Croatoan, the English asked the native Croatoan people to negotiate peace for them with the Secotan. Instead, the Croatoan raided the Secotan village of Dasamonqupue, modern day Mann’s Harbor, and shared the spoils with the English.

After about two weeks of weighing anchor in the choppy Atlantic waters, the ship pilot Simon Fernando refused to take the colony further on to Chesapeake for fear he would not have enough time to get back to England before hurricane season arrived in the fall. It was agreed that Governor John White should return to England with Fernando to obtain ships and supplies.

Governor White left behind his son-in-law and daughter (Ananias and Eleanor Dare), and his newly born granddaughter (Virginia Dare). When Governor White left, he told the colony to carve on a tree the name of the place they go to when they leave Roanoke, because there was never any intent for them to stay at Roanoke. Before White left, there was also some discussion amongst the colonists about them possibly going ’50 miles in to the main’ which may have meant along the coast (see previous explanation of the word ‘main’). White also instructed the colonists to place a cross on the tree if they left under duress.

1590 – The Fifth Voyage – Governor John White returns

White finally returned to the New World in 1590, the fifth English voyage. When White arrived at Roanoke, he found the word CROATOAN carved in to a palisade at the settlement site.

He was unconcerned with his daughter and her family’s whereabouts, as indicated in his own writing:

“I greatly joyed that I had safely found a certain token of their safe being at Croatoan, which is the place where Manteo was born, and the savages of the island our friends.” (John White, 1590)

Upon finding the message of CROATOAN carved on the palisade in 1590, White also wrote:

“The next morning it was agreed by the captain and myself, with the master and others to weigh anchor and go for the place at Croatoan where our planters were for that then the wind was good for that place.”

White tried to go to Croatoan in 1590, however, a storm prevented him from making it to the small island located 50 miles from Roanoke.

No real effort was ever made to reach the colony again. So it is more a case of abandonment than of them being lost.

Croatoan is 50 miles from Roanoke. Bertie County is 57 miles away. However, let me now bring you back to my analogy of meeting your family at a restaurant for dinner. Are you going to drive to Café 12 (Bertie County) to meet them because you discussed that possibility this morning… or are you going to drive to Shipwreck Grill (Croatoan) where the note your wife left you says they went?

What does the recent news regarding the Virgenia Pars map really mean?

This new find on the map made in 1585 probably marks the spot where Ralph Lane wanted to build a fort to control the Chowan, Roanoke and Cashie rivers. Remember, Lane wanted Drake to resupply him so he could ‘build a series of forts along the rivers in to the main.’ A fort at this location would not only be useful in Lane’s plans to conquer enemy territory, but it was also a good defensive location against the Spanish.

From the primary sources of the 1585 voyage, we know Lane went up the Chowan River until it was no wider than the Thames in London.

There is never any mention in any of the primary sources we have of anyone going to this alleged new fort’s location discovered on the 1585 map, but Lane did sail past it twice and probably recognized the military value of this location.

It is on the map for some reason and covered up for some reason. Given the context we have from the primary sources, this is probably where Lane wanted to, and may have started to build, a fort, but never completed it and thus it was removed from the map — aka covered up.

Context is everything and what we have now is a sentence fragment “50 miles into the main” being taken out of context to support a new and exciting find that was probably where Ralph Lane wanted to build a fort in 1585.

The Case for the Lost, or Abandoned, Colonists going to Croatoan

Croatoan was Manteo’s home. Manteo had been to England twice and was a stout ally/friend to the English.

Croatoan was a place the English had lived before, both in 1584 and 1585/86. The Croatoan people are also who the English asked help of and from whom they received it when George Howe was murdered in 1587.

Again, this is all important context to remember. Croatoan is also, in no uncertain terms, the stated destination of the ‘lost’ colony. They carved the word CROATOAN in all capital letters on the palisade as instructed and there was no cross indicating signs of duress. Fifty miles into the mainland was the heart of enemy territory — right at the crossroads of the Secotan and the Mandoag, who had both already attacked the English. The choice, therefore, that the colonists faced regarding where to go was easy: Move to Croatoan where the natives are their friends and allies, or move in to the mainland where the natives are their enemies?

Further evidence for Croatoan

The next explorer to visit Hatteras Island was John Lawson in 1701 who published his findings in “A New Voyage to Carolina.” Lawson wrote that he found gray-eyed Indians wearing English clothes, who said they had white ancestors who could speak out of a book and who came on Sir Walter Raleigh’s ship.

Hmm… sounds like pretty good evidence of assimilation.

In addition, the popular media/news articles have been reporting that…

“It is believed they (the colonists) may have re-located to Croatoan Island (now Hatteras Island), but this has never been proved.”

So, now let’s talk Archaeology…

First of all, 16 th century English artifacts have been found on Hatteras Island. Between 1947-1953, archaeologist J.C. Harrington conducted excavations on Roanoke Island.

During this time, Harrington was given a ‘casting counter’ from a resident of Hatteras Island, reportedly found on Hatteras Island. This casting counter is an exact match of a casting counter found on Roanoke Island which is believed to be from the 16th century. Unfortunately, this casting counter left Hatteras Island and has never been returned.

“In 1954 & 1955, the Office of Naval Research sponsored an extensive archaeological survey of the Northeastern coastal region of NC, from Currituck Sound to the Neuse River. This research, under the direction of William Haag, was carried out as part of a program to develop the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Park. Haag was charged with finding sites that depicted the ancient history of the region he also was directed to find evidence of the whereabouts of members of the “Lost Colony” after they abandoned Fort Raleigh. The latter goal dictated that Haag’s survey focus on the Cape Hatteras area, where many believed the English Settlers moved after leaving Roanoke Island” (Haag, 1958). (Cited in Time Before History, Ward & Davis, pg 196, 1999.)

In 1983, Dr. David Phelps from ECU came to Hatteras Island, working under the sponsorship of America’s Four Hundredth Anniversary Committee, and performed the first actual archaeological test ‘excavation’ in the Buxton area (31DR1). The code 31DR1 is the Smithsonian’s designation for the area of archaeological interest in the Buxton region of Hatteras Island. The number 31 represents North Carolina’s alphabetical standing on the list of states DR stands for Dare County and 1 indicates that the Buxton site was the first listed in the county.

In 1993, Hurricane Emily uncovered a slew of artifacts on the soundside of Buxton in the area of 31DR1. Dr. Phelps returned to Hatteras to survey the area a few times, and then, in 1998, Phelps conducted a full scale archaeological excavation in conjunction with the Lost Colony Center for Science and Research, founded by Fred Willard.

Phelps and Willard worked together with ECU and the local community to uncover archaeology in the area of 31DR1. This was when the famous gunlock and Kendall Ring were found.

The gunlock is a late 16th century snaphaunce, which may have arrived in Buxton during one of famous 16th century English voyages conducted between 1584-1587.

The Kendall ring may have belonged to Master Kendall, a member of the 1585-1586 expedition. Another major outcome from Phelps’ dig was the confirmation of the long-held belief that the 31DR1 area was, and is, the capital town of Croatoan.

Unfortunately, all of the artifacts from Phelps’ digs left the island and have not returned.

Current Archaeology on Hatteras Island

A team from the University of Bristol, England under the direct supervision of Professor Mark Horton, has been conducting archaeological excavations on Hatteras Island — most specifically in the area of 31DR1 — since 2009 to the present. Working in conjunction with the local nonprofit group, the Croatoan Archaeological Society, Inc., the University of Bristol has now conducted four annual excavations on Hatteras/Croatoan.

Their ongoing archaeological research project, the Croatoan Archaeological Project, has uncovered many significant finds, both Native and European. During their last round of digging in Spring 2012, Professor Horton did a digital presentation for the local Hatteras Island community entitled “Archaeology on Hatteras Island: ‘The Big Reveal’.” During his presentation, Professor Horton shared his summations and findings from his four years of archaeological research conducted on Hatteras. The ‘big reveal’ was essentially that:

“…the archaeological evidence suggests that the Native People of Hatteras Island in the 1600s were using European weaponry, iron tools, and wearing pocketwatches. The archaeological evidence also suggests that the native people of Hatteras Island from the 1600s and well in to the 1700s were either living harmoniously with Europeans or had become assimilated with Europeans.” (Professor Mark Horton)

This is a huge step forward in the understanding of the history of the native people of Croatoan (modern day Hatteras Island). What is unique about this finding is the fact that nowhere else in the history of America do we see this extended brotherhood among the Natives and Europeans, except right here at Croatoan.

Outer Banks Maps and Mile Post Markers

What some Outer Banks maps don't show is the very helpful Mile Post indicators, starting at MP 1 in Kitty Hawk going progressively higher in number as you travel south through Nags Head and onto Hatteras Island. (Yes, that does seem counter-intuitive.) Many businesses include their MP number in their addresses because, once you get the hang of it, you're more likely to understand where a business is generally located that way. For instance, the Aycock Brown Visitor Center in Kitty Hawk is at MP 1. Wright Brothers National Monument is at MP 8. Jockey's Ridge is MP 12.5. Jennette's Pier is MP 16.5. Hatteras Village is MP 72. So, if you’re looking for a business that indicates it’s at MP 15, you know it’s south of Jockey’s Ridge.

A Gentleman’s Ring

“Hey, a chunk of iron!” exclaims Margaret Dawson, a nurse and volunteer excavator, as she sorts through black earth at a site on Hatteras Island called Cape Creek. She and her husband Scott, a local teacher, founded the Croatoan Archaeological Society—named after the island’s native inhabitants—in 2009 and have sponsored Horton’s annual digs ever since.

Hidden in a live oak forest close to Pamlico Sound, Cape Creek was the site of a major Croatoan town and trade hub. Under Horton’s supervision, volunteers are busy searching through fine-mesh screens filled with mud from a nearby trench. The Dawson’s two young daughters are quick to spot tiny Venetian glass beads.

During a two-day excavation in July, the sieves produced ample Native American as well as European materials, including deer and turtle bones, homemade and imported brick, Native American pottery, hunks of European iron, parts of a 16th century gun, and a tiny copper eyelet that may have been used in clothing.

In 1998, archaeologists from East Carolina University found a ten-carat gold signet ring here engraved with a prancing lion or horse, an unprecedented find in early British America. The well-worn object may date to the 16th century and was almost certainly owned by an English nobleman.

Like most of the European finds at Cape Creek, however, the artifact was mixed in with objects that date to the mid-17th century, a full lifetime after the Roanoke colony was abandoned.

Horton argues that members of the lost colony living among the Croatoan may have kept their few heirlooms even as they slowly adopted Indian ways.

One of the most unusual recent discoveries is a small piece of slate that was used as a writing tablet, along with a lead pencil. A tiny letter “M” can just be made out on one corner. A similar, though much larger, slate was found at Jamestown.

“This was owned by somebody who could read or write,” Horton says. “This wasn’t useful for trade, but was owned by an educated European.”

Another artifact unearthed recently at Cape Creek is part of the hilt of a rapier, a light sword of a type used in England in the late 16th century. In addition, a large copper ingot, a long iron bar, and German stoneware show up in what appear to be late 16th century levels. These may be signs of metallurgical work by Europeans—and possibly by Roanoke settlers—since Native Americans lacked this technology.

“There are trade items here,” Horton says, gesturing at the artifacts. “But there is also material that doesn’t come from trade.” Were these the personal possessions of the colonists?

The Outer Banks is home to one of America's oldest and most baffling mysteries, the establishment and subsequent disappearance of "The Lost Colony."

The Southern Outer Banks, particularly Ocracoke Island, is notorious as the stomping grounds for some of history's most infamous pirates. Notable swashbucklers from Calico Jack to Anne Bonney and Mary Reed, arguably the most famous women pirates, have made a splash in this area, robbing privateers blind and making intricate, sneaky escapes in the inlets and soundside waters off of these barrier islands. Lost Colony

White’s 16th-century map may have held code for safe havens

John White didn’t find the colony when he returned from England with supplies but discovered CROATOAN carved into a post.

Looking at something old and seeing something new can lead to important discoveries. Archaeologists from the First Colony Foundation had just such an epiphany when poring over the 1587 map of the Outer Banks and mainland created by Sir Walter Raleigh colonist John White.

White’s map is not only acclaimed for its accuracy and beautiful watercolors. The foundation has apparently broken a very old code embedded within it: The colors were likely clues for mariners and explorers to where they might safely travel and find support.

“The pink and reddish areas very possibly indicate areas where English explorers, sailors and settlers could expect to find friendly people and some measure of safety,” foundation President Phillip Evans said when asked about the possibility.

Click here for a full rendering of the map at The British Museum.

“That’s certainly a very arguable proposition and well liked by the First Colony Foundation.”

In 1584, Sir Walter Raleigh persuaded Queen Elizabeth of England to agree to a brief expedition to America to evaluate eventual colonization and mining for riches. The leaders landed on Roanoke Island, explored and returned, bringing Native Americans Manteo and Wanchese to England. They returned to America in 1585 with what was planned to be the first permanent colony.

Problems ensued, and the colonists returned to England in 1586. Manteo accompanied them and returned with a third expedition in 1587, led by Governor John White.

White was forced to leave the colony and return to England for supplies and was delayed from returning for three years because of the English war with Spain. He did not find the colony when he came back, but discovered the letters CRO carved into a tree and CROATOAN into a post.

White assumed the colonists had joined Manteo’s tribe on the Outer Banks, but a storm prevented him from sailing to the area, and he returned to England.

This is the ill-fated group now known as the Lost Colony. White was an accomplished artist and drew the map which the foundation is now studying with new scrutiny.

It occurred to foundation researchers recently that areas of red-pink, red-orange, orange-red and areas devoid of colors, on White’s “La Virginea Pars” map of the East coast of North America from Chesapeake Bay to Cape Lookout, may have been more than incidental.

Evans said that areas shaded red-pink include Roanoke Island, Manns Harbor and lower Hatteras from Buxton to half way down Ocracoke. These areas contain five Native-American villages of the Croatoan tribe, led by Manteo, who befriended the colonists.

Upper Hatteras Island and the Avon and Rodanthe areas, he said, have some light red outlining, but they are not fully colored.

Rodanthe north to Oregon Inlet and the Nags Head to Kitty Hawk areas have no coloring at all.

“There is some color down at Cape Lookout, which is a little confusing to us,” he added, noting that the foundation has no knowledge that the Croatoan were based that far south.

A problem with John White’s map, Evans said, is that it does not contain a “key.” Maps today include a separate area that explains what every jot and tittle on them means to the user.

Roads and trails may be marked by solid, broken, dotted or different colored lines. Schools and churches may be shown by symbols, such as flags and crosses.

“We don’t know of a key. Whether maps of the period had written keys or just went by common usage is a question. One might assume that those ‘in the know’ would have known what was represented, but we need to know more about this,” Evans said.

The British Museum in London has the original map. Evans said the foundation used donor dollars to fund the services of the museum to study the pigmentation of White’s colors. Researchers there undertook many different imaging and spectroscopy tests on the map and determined areas of commonality on the document.

Also marked in red across the map are circles representing the Native American villages, including those other than the Croatoan, such as the Weapemeoc, Chowanoke and Moratuc at the western end of the Albemarle Sound.

And there is such a round circle buried, along with a red-blue fort symbol, under a patch where the Chowan and Roanoke Rivers meet in the western Albemarle Sound.

Do those red areas also signal safe areas and friendly Indians? Evans said so many questions remain, and the search for evidence continues.

Video Interview with Sitting Bull’s Great-Grandson

It was 123 years ago today, December 15, 1890, that Sitting Bull (shown above in 1885) was killed by Indian agency police on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation during an attempt to arrest him for supporting the Ghost Dance movement. During the ensuing struggle between Sitting Bull’s followers and the agency police, at 5:30 in the morning, Sitting Bull was shot in the side and head by Standing Rock policemen Lieutenant Bull Head (Tatankapah) and Red Tomahawk (Marcelus Chankpidutah) after the police were fired upon by Sitting Bull’s supporters. His body was taken to nearby Fort Yates for burial, but in 1953, his remains were possibly exhumed and reburied near Mobridge, South Dakota, by his Lakota family, who wanted his body to be nearer to his birthplace.

Until listening to this video, I never realized that Sitting Bull was betrayed by one of his own people, Henry Oscar One Bull, who was looking to make a name for himself.

Ernie LaPointe, Sitting Bull’s lineal great grandson, tells his great grandfather’s oral history. In this film clip he tells who the family holds most responsible for the death of Sitting Bull. Full two part DVD series available at This clip is from part two of ‘The Authorized Biography of Sitting Bull By His Great Grandson”.

At this link, you will find two videos, towards the bottom of this page. Ignore the ad under the title, it has nothing to do with the LaPointe videos.

Share this:

Like this:

Old Historical Atlas Maps of Virginia

This Historical Virginia Map Collection are from original copies. Most historical maps of Virginia were published in atlases and spans over 400 years of growth for the state.

Some Virginia maps years have cities, railroads, P.O. locations, township outlines, and other features useful to the Virginia researcher.

Jansson’s 1630 Map of Virginia and the Chesapeake region, based upon John Smith’s map of the region frist published in 1612.

  • Map Date: 1630
  • Map Locations: Virginia
  • Map Publication:
  • Map Type:
  • Map Cartographer: Jan Janssonius (1588-1664)

Jeffery’s 1776 Map of the most Inhabited part of Virginia containing the whole province of Maryland with Part of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and North Carolina

  • Map Date: 1776
  • Map Locations:Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, North Carolina
  • Map Publication: The American Atlas: Or, A Geographical Description Of The Whole Continent Of America
  • Map Type: World Atlas
  • Map Cartographer: Samuel Holland and Thomas Jefferys

Jeffery’s 1776 Map of the most Inhabited part of Virginia containing the whole province of Maryland with Part of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and North Carolina – Northern Section

  • Map Date: 1776
  • Map Locations:Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, North Carolina
  • Map Publication: The American Atlas: Or, A Geographical Description Of The Whole Continent Of America
  • Map Type: World Atlas
  • Map Cartographer: Samuel Holland and Thomas Jefferys

Jeffery’s 1776 Map of the most Inhabited part of Virginia containing the whole province of Maryland with Part of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and North Carolina – Southern Section

  • Map Date: 1776
  • Map Locations:Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, North Carolina
  • Map Publication: The American Atlas: Or, A Geographical Description Of The Whole Continent Of America
  • Map Type: World Atlas
  • Map Cartographer: Samuel Holland and Thomas Jefferys

Carey’s 1795 State Map of Virginia Compiled from the best Authorities

  • Map Date: 1795
  • Map Locations: Virginia
  • Map Publication: Carey’s American Atlas: Containing Twenty Maps And One Chart
  • Map Type: National Atlas
  • Map Cartographer: Mathew Carey (1760– 1839)

Arrowsmith’s 1804 State Map of Virginia

  • Map Date: 1804
  • Map Locations: Virginia
  • Map Publication: A new and elegant general atlas, comprising all the new discoveries, to the present time.
  • Map Cartographer: Aaron Arrowsmith (1750-1823) and Samuel Lewis (1754-1822)

Carey’s 1814 State Map of Virginia

  • Map Date: 1814
  • Map Locations: Virginia
  • Map Publication: Carey’s General Atlas, Improved And Enlarged Being A Collection Of Maps Of The World And Quarters, Their Principal Empires, Kingdoms, &c
  • Map Type: World Atlas
  • Map Cartographer: Henry Charles Carey and Isaac Lea

Carey’s 1822 Geographical, Historical and Statistical State Map of Virginia

  • Map Date: 1822
  • Map Locations: Virginia
  • Map Publication: A Complete Historical, Chronological, And Geographical American Atlas, Being A Guide To The History Of North And South America, And The West Indies … To The Year 1822.
  • Map Type: National Atlas
  • Map Cartographer: Henry Charles Carey & Isaac Lea

Finley’s 1827 State Map of Virginia and Maryland

  • Map Date: 1827
  • Map Locations:Virginia, Maryland
  • Map Publication: A New General Atlas, Comprising a Complete Set of Maps, representing the Grand Divisions of the Globe, Together with the several Empires, Kingdoms and States in the World Compiled from the Best Authorities, and corrected by the Most Recent Discoveries, Philadelphia, 1827.
  • Map Type: National Atlas
  • Map Cartographer: Anthony Finley (1784 – 1836)

Tanner’s 1836 State Map of Virginia

  • Map Date: 1836 (Entered 1833)
  • Map Locations:Virginia, West Virginia
  • Map Publication: A New Universal Atlas Containing Maps of the various Empires, Kingdoms, States and Republics Of The World.
  • Map Type: World Atlas
  • Map Cartographer: Henry Schenck Tanner (1786–1858)

Morse’s 1845 Map of Virginia

  • Map Date: 1842 (Entered 1842)
  • Map Locations:Virginia, West Virginia
  • Map Publication: Morse’s North American atlas. Containing the following beautifully colored maps
  • Map Type: National Atlas
  • Map Cartographer: Sidney Edwards Morse (1794-1871 ) and Samuel Breese (1802-1873)

Colton’s 1856 State Map of Virginia with Cities of Richmond, Manchester, Springhill, Norfolk, Portsmouth And Gosport

  • Map Date: 1856 (Entered 1855)
  • Map Locations: Virginia with Cities of Richmond, Manchester, Springhill, Norfolk, Portsmouth And Gosport
  • Map Publication: Colton’s Atlas Of The World, Illustrating Physical And Political Geography.
  • Map Type: World Atlas
  • Map Cartographer: Joseph Hutchins Colton (1800-1893)

Mitchell’s 1870 State Map of Virginia and West Virginia

  • Map Date: 1870
  • Map Locations:Virginia, West Virginia
  • Map Publication: Mitchell’s new general atlas, containing maps of the various countries of the World, plans of cities, etc.
  • Map Type: World Atlas
  • Map Cartographer: Samuel Augustus Mitchell

Mitchell’s 1880 State and County Map of Virginia and West Virginia

  • Map Date: 1880 (Entered 1879)
  • Map Locations:Virginia, West Virginia
  • Map Publication: Mitchell’s New General Atlas
  • Map Type: World Atlas
  • Map Cartographer: Samuel Augustus Mitchell Jr. (1827-1901)

Mitchell’s 1890 State Maps of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and West Virginia

  • Map Date: 1890 (Entered 1886)
  • Map Locations:Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware
  • Map Publication: Mitchell’s New General Atlas
  • Map Type: World Atlas
  • Map Cartographer: Samuel Augustus Mitchell Jr. (1827-1901)


Portions of a unique late 16th-century map in the British Museum (which documents voyages to North America for Sir Walter Raleigh), have recently been examined to reveal hitherto unseen lines and symbols that have been hidden for centuries. Using a variety of non-contact scientific methods carefully chosen to be safe to use with early paper, researchers at the British Museum in London are peering at and through two small ‘patches’ of paper applied to an Elizabethan map of parts of modern eastern North Carolina and tidewater Virginia. The first patch (number 1 at the southern end of the map) appears to have been applied primarily to allow the artist to alter the coastline. The second patch (number 2 at the northern end of the map) offers even more exciting finds. It appears to cover a large ‘fort’ symbol in bright red and bright blue and, and has a very faint (just barely visible to the naked eye) but much smaller version of a similar shape on top. There is also a red circle under the patch that may represent an Indian town. The map is part of a large set of watercolours that gave England and Europe its first accurate views of the new world of North America. Drawn by John White, these watercolours from the British Museum collection were the centrepiece of the New World exhibition held at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh in 2007.

“La Virginea Pars”, a map of the east coast of North America (c. 1585-87) produced by the Elizabethan artist and gentleman, John White (P&D 1906,0509.1.3, c. British Museum,) © Trustees of the British Museum

Scholars of the North Carolina-based First Colony Foundation, a non-profit group utilizing archaeology and historical research to learn more about what are called the Roanoke Voyages, note that one of the altered portions of the map is an area explored by Raleigh’s colonists in 1585 and 1586 and where the 1587 “lost colony” may have tried to resettle. The English had hoped to set up a series of outposts linking their territory, called Virginia in honor of Elizabeth I, northward to the James River, where a later generation established Jamestown, the first permanent English colony. First Colony Foundation researchers believe that it could mark, literally and symbolically, “the way to Jamestown.” As such it is a unique discovery of the first importance.

Ongoing First Colony Foundation research to identify the location of White’s iconic drawing of the Algonkian village of Secotan in the Pamlico region, prompted Brent Lane, Adjunct Professor of Heritage Economics at the UNC Kenan Institute and a FCF scholar, to begin a careful comparison of White’s map with what he knew of the local geography. Lane became intrigued with the paper patches and contacted the British Museum to determine whether they covered any words or images drawn on the paper beneath. Curators, conservators and scientists at the Museum have made preliminary investigations that are making new discoveries on a map of old discoveries.

Detail of ” La Virginea Pars” by John White showing the area of one of two paper patches (the northern patch) stuck to the map (P&D 1906,0509.1.3 (detail), © Trustees of the British Museum

There is no visible tear or cut in the paper under the two small paper pieces the researchers call “patches.” It was common for artists at the time to make corrections to their work by placing clean pieces of paper or “patches” over areas they wished to change or re-draw. The northern, almost square patch (number 2) covers an area of the Albemarle Sound, where the Roanoke and Chowan Rivers join. There is only a slight correction to the coastline on its upper surface, but beneath it, on the original surface, is the possible fort symbol, which is visible only when the map is viewed on a light box. The southern patch (number 1) covers initial sketches of part of the Pamlico River, depicting its northern shoreline with ships sailing past. Here the watercolour image on the patch makes corrections to the drawing of the shoreline and river channels and the placing of some of the villages. Comparison of these changes to a sketch map sent back to England during the 1585 exploration may offer clues to the location of the important Algonkian town of Secotan.

These early English voyages to North America sponsored by Sir Walter Raleigh led to the exploration of the area around the Outer Banks and two attempts at colonization on Roanoke Island, NC. John White came with the expedition that brought the first colony in 1585, and most of his famous depictions of the North Carolina Algonkians and the local flora and fauna are from that voyage. This first, military colony returned to England in 1586. The following year White led another colony of 118 men, women and children to establish the “Cittie of Raleigh,” of which White was to be the governor. But the colonists were landed on Roanoke Island and White returned to England for supplies shortly after the birth of his grand-daughter, Virginia Dare, the first English child born in America. Delayed by the attack of the Spanish Armada in 1588, White was unable to return to find his colonists until 1590, when he found the site deserted and the word “CROATOAN” carved into a post. This was the name of an island at Cape Hatteras occupied by friendly Native Americans, but all evidence indicates that in 1587 the colonists had planned to move inland.

First Colony Foundation archaeologist Eric Klingelhofer of Mercer University, whose First Forts: Essays on the Archaeology of Proto-Colonial Fortifications, examined defences of this period, says the newly visible symbol of a Renaissance-style fort could “be associated with White’s assertion that ‘at my comming away they were prepared to remove from Roanoak 50 miles into the maine.'”

These first English attempts at American colonization were followed twenty years later by a permanent colony on the James River. Soon after the establishment of “James Fort,” the English settlers went in search of survivors from Raleigh’s 1587 colony. A sketch map they sent back to England bore a notation at the upper Albemarle Sound where the “king of paspahegh reported our men to be.” The Jamestown colonists were never able to confirm the report.

An enhanced ultraviolet-reflected image of the very faint image on the surface of the northern patch on “La Virginea Pars” by John White (P&D 1906,0509.1.3 (detail) © Trustees of the British Museum

First Colony Foundation historian James Horn of Colonial Williamsburg suggested in his recent book, A Kingdom Strange: The Brief and Tragic History of the Lost Colony of Roanoke, that the majority of the 1587 colonists relocated at the head of Albemarle Sound on the Chowan River. He comments that “documentary evidence suggests an early and sustained interest by the English in the Chowan and Roanoke River systems. The discovery of a symbol seemingly representing a fort where the Roanoke and Chowan Rivers meet provides dramatic confirmation of the colonists’ interest in exploring the interior (where riches were to be found) and connecting the two Virginias, Roanoke and Jamestown.”

John White entitled the map “La Virginea Pars” and based his work upon surveys and navigational measurements made by the Elizabethan mathematician and scientist Thomas Harriot. This map shows the coastal area from present Cape Henry, VA to Cape Lookout, NC, with a degree of accuracy that it is often compared to NASA satellite photographs. The British Museum reference number for the map is 1906,0509.1.3 and it can be found in the Museum’s online database here.

The First Colony Foundation will offer its interpretation of the altered areas and the reasons behind the changes. First Colony is preparing to develop new research programs, historical and archaeological, to explore this fascinating and mysterious period of early American history.

Further Reading

Kim Sloan, A New World: England’s First View of America, UNC Press, Chapel Hill, 2007.

The attached images are the property of the British Museum. Images must be issued with the full captions (below each image) and the copyright line must be printed if the images are reproduced in the press.