May 6, 2012

Museum Researchers Discover Possible Fate Of ‘Lost Colony’

By taking a second look at a 400-plus year old map, researchers at London's British Museum have reportedly discovered new clue as to the whereabouts of the Lost Colony -- a group of approximately 100 settlers who vanished from an outpost on Roanoke Island in the late 16th century.

According to Theo Emery of the New York Times, museum official used modern-day imaging techniques to further study the "Virginia Pars" map that was created by explorer John White in the 1580s. They discovered hidden markings which they believe indicate a fort located further island where the colonists might have resettled after departing from the coast.

"The findings, announced Thursday morning, bring into focus a puzzle that has long fed the feverish curiosity of historians, archaeologists and amateur sleuths. Folklore has flourished over the colonists´ fate, including that of the first child of English descent born in the Americas, Virginia Dare," Emery said.

"And the findings point to new mysteries. The analysis suggests that the symbol marking the fort was deliberately hidden, perhaps to shield it from espionage in the spy-riddled English court. An even more tantalizing hint of dark arts tints the map: the possibility that invisible ink may have marked the site all along," he added.

The findings were announced Thursday by officials at the British Museum and the First Colony Foundation, a North Carolina-based historical association, during a presentation at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the UK newspaper The Telegraph reported on Friday.

"Attached to the map are two patches. One patch appears to merely correct a mistake on the map, but the other -- in what is modern-day Bertie County in northeastern North Carolina -- hides what appears to be a fort," the publication said. "Another symbol, appearing to be the very faint image of a different kind of fort, is drawn on top of the patch. The American and British scholars believe the fort symbol could indicate where the settlers went."

Brent Lane of the First Colony Foundation told the Telegraph that the presence of the patches raised his curiosity and made him wonder, "If this was such an accurate map and it was so critical to their mission, why in the world did it have patches on it? This important document was being shown to investors and royalty to document the success of this mission. And it had patches on it like a hand-me-down."

While he and his colleagues said that they do not know why someone would have covered the symbol with a patch, but the discovery of the possible fort location, which is in what is now Bertie County in northeastern North Carolina, could eventually become the focus for an archeological dig. However, according to the Telegraph, the land is privately owned, and parts of it could be under a residential community and/or a golf course, which will likely delay any possible research at the site.


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