For more than four centuries the fate of the first English settlement in America has been a mystery, but a new look at an old map has yielded an intriguing clue about the fate of the Roanoke Colony.

A 425-year-old map was the key subject of a scholarly meeting Thursday at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as experts from the First Colony Foundation and the British Museum in London discussed what may have happened to the so-called Lost Colony, the settlers who disappeared from North Carolina’s Roanoke Island in the late 16th century.

“We believe that this evidence provides conclusive proof that they moved westward up the Albemarle Sound to the confluence of the Chowan and Roanoke rivers,” said James Horn, vice president of research and historical interpretation at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and author of a 2010 book about the Lost Colony.

“Their intention was to create a settlement. And this is what we believe we are looking at with this symbol – their clear intention, marked on the map …”

Scholars focused on the “Virginea Pars” map of Virginia and North Carolina created by explorer John White in the 1580s and owned by the British Museum since 1866.

Attached to the map are two patches, according to an Associated Press report.

“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. Another symbol, appearing to be the very faint image of a different kind of fort, is drawn on top of the patch,” according to the wire service.

Read the rest of this entry »