5 Theories About How The Lost Colony Of Roanoke Mysteriously Vanished

An entire colony gone missing.

On this episode of Buzzfeed Unsolved, Ryan and Shane investigate the Roanoke Colony.

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On May 8, 1587, approximately 127 settlers sailed from England to Roanoke Island — off the coast of what’s now known as North Carolina.

On May 8, 1587, approximately 127 settlers sailed from England to Roanoke Island — off the coast of what’s now known as North Carolina.

They arrived in July of 1587, and within their first month they endured a few attacks from Native Americans.

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John White was the settlement’s governor, and they wanted him to get them more food, tools, and people.

John White was the settlement’s governor, and they wanted him to get them more food, tools, and people.

So, on August 25, 1587, he sailed back to England for supplies, leaving behind 115 colonists.

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White’s timing was poor, as England was on the verge of going to war with Spain who had a strong fleet of ships. Because of this, White wasn’t able to return to Roanoke for three years.

White’s timing was poor, as England was on the verge of going to war with Spain who had a strong fleet of ships. Because of this, White wasn’t able to return to Roanoke for three years.

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When he returned in August 1590, the entire colony had vanished without a trace.

When he returned in August 1590, the entire colony had vanished without a trace.

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The only clue was the word “Croatoan” carved into a fence post, and “crow,” carved into a tree.

The only clue was the word “Croatoan” carved into a fence post, and “crow,” carved into a tree.

White attempted to sail 50 miles to search for the colonists twice, but both efforts were foiled by storms that forced him to turn back.

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White returned to Europe, then moved to Ireland, where he passed away in 1593, never knowing what’d happened to his colony.

White returned to Europe, then moved to Ireland, where he passed away in 1593, never knowing what’d happened to his colony.

115 people disappeared, but no bodies or signs of a mass grave have ever been found. Here are some theories about what may've happened to them.

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Theory One: The settlers were murdered by a local Native American tribe.

Theory One: The settlers were murdered by a local Native American tribe.

This theory is supported by the fact that there was an attack on the settlers before White had left, so it's not unlikely that there could be another, more devastating one.

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Theory Two: The Settlers joined a nearby, friendly Native American tribe and assimilated.

Theory Two: The Settlers joined a nearby, friendly Native American tribe and assimilated.

This theory could explain the “Croatoan” carving, if perhaps it were left as a clue on their whereabouts.

Buzzfeed

Buzzfeed

There are also supernatural possibilities that’ve been considered, like the following…

There are also supernatural possibilities that’ve been considered, like the following…

Buzzfeed

Theory Four: The colonists were abducted by aliens.

Theory Four: The colonists were abducted by aliens.

Perhaps the reason there weren’t any remains discovered, or signs of the colonists exiting, was because the left the island quickly, and not by choice. Additionally, the hidden symbol on the map might not represent a fort, but a craft’s landing spot.

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Theory Five: The colony disappeared via a zombie plague.

Theory Five: The colony disappeared via a zombie plague.

This final theory may sound farfetched, but a zombie researcher believes an undead infection on the island is a feasible way they could’ve been wiped out.

AMC

While there are countless possibilities, there simply isn’t enough evidence to definitively know how the colonists vanished. For now, the mystery of what happened on Roanoke remains unsolved.

While there are countless possibilities, there simply isn't enough evidence to definitively know how the colonists vanished. For now, the mystery of what happened on Roanoke remains unsolved.

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The Mysterious Disappearance of Roanoke Colony

We tackle the oldest mystery in US history
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