America Utterly Fascinating Theories Behind The Vanishing Roanoke Colony  

Lyra Radford
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The disappearance of the Roanoke colony remains one of the oldest unsolved mysteries in the United States. It all began back in 1587, when Sir Walter Raleigh financed the attempts of John White to establish a colony on Roanoke Island, just off the coast of North Carolina. They landed on July 22, establishing themselves rather quickly, and everything seemed to be going well for the thriving colony of 115 people. In fact, John White’s daughter, Eleanor Dare, gave birth to a daughter while in Roanoke. Little Virginia Dare was born on August 18th and has the title of being the very first English child born in the Americas.

John White set sail back to England to gather fresh supplies, but an attack by the Spanish Armada delayed his return. White finally returned to Roanoke in 1590 after being away from his family for three years, but he arrived to find the entire colony had simply vanished, leaving nothing behind except the word “Croatoan” carved into a post and “Cro” etched into a tree. But what does "Croatoan mean" and where could the colony have gone? 

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The Colonists Tried to Sail Back to England

The Colonists Tried to Sail Ba... is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list Utterly Fascinating Theories Behind The Vanishing Roanoke Colony
Photo: Internet Archive Book Images/flickr/No known copyright restrictions

It has also been theorized that they grew tired of waiting for John White to return and attempted to sail back to England on their own. Unfortunately, there is no ship, shipwreck, or evidence of any kind to support this theory, either. 

The Croatoan Tribe Executed the Colonists as Suspected Witches

The Croatoan Tribe Executed th... is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list Utterly Fascinating Theories Behind The Vanishing Roanoke Colony
Photo: Santiago Camado/via Wikimedia Commons

The Croatoan tribe encountered by the Roanoke colonists believed in witches, both males and females that used black magic to do evil - including, for example, things the colonists may well have been doing, both intentionally and otherwise, including spreading diseases. While the local tribes in that area did not regularly execute witches, there is some precedence for them putting dangerous outsiders to death - and the colonists were nothing if not dangerous outsiders.

Roanoke Was the Site of a Zombie Apocalypse

Roanoke Was the Site of a Zomb... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list Utterly Fascinating Theories Behind The Vanishing Roanoke Colony
Photo: John White/via Wikipedia

Another theory folks like to share on the Internet is that Roanoke was ground zero for some kind of zombie apocalypse. This theory combines the disease theory with the cannibalism theory. First, the settlers were infected with a zombie virus that not only gave them an insatiable hunger for human flesh, but hastened the decaying process in their own bodies. Which is why they didn’t find any bodies - everything rotted away as their shambling bodies ate the entire food supply, falling where they stood once nothing was left. The remains would have been long gone, fertilizer for the forest before John White’s ship returned.

The Roanoke Colonists Were Transformed Into Trees

The Roanoke Colonists Were Tra... is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list Utterly Fascinating Theories Behind The Vanishing Roanoke Colony
Photo: John White/via Wikimedia

The Croatoan tribe believed the island had a spirit who, if angered, had the ability to absorb the offenders into the woods - as in, literally transform them into animals, trees, stones, or anything else in nature. If this lore were taken at face value, that would mean no one went missing, they just became a part of the land.