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The Roanoke Mystery

What happened to the ‘Lost Colony’ at Roanoke? It’s a mystery that’s intrigued American historians for centuries – and one that began on 22nd July, 1587, when the settlers, led by John White, first landed there; only to discover that a previous colony had been wiped out by hostile tribespeople.

This new settlement, however, was under immense pressure to succeed – as it was financed by Sir Walter Raleigh, who needed to establish a permanent colony by 1591 to retain his charter from Queen Elizabeth. Yet, a few years later, White returned to find the colony abandoned, with the word “Croatoan” carved into a post. Where had they gone?

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly investigate the theories offered up over the years; explain how the narrative of hostile natives skewed the data; and check out the “Dare Stones”, claiming to be messages from Virginia Dare’s mother… 

Further Reading:

• ‘The Lost Colony of Roanoke’ (Reader’s Digest, 1992):

https://www.historyfiles.co.uk/FeaturesAmericas/NorthColonial_English02.htm

• ’The Roanoke Island Colony: Lost, and Found?’ (The New York Times, 2015): https://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/11/science/the-roanoke-colonists-lost-and-found.html

• ’The Colony of Roanoke’s Mysterious Disappearance | The UnXplained’ (History Channel, 2022):

ON THIS DAY
The Roanoke Mystery

What happened to the ‘Lost Colony’ at Roanoke? It’s a mystery that’s intrigued American historians for centuries – and one that began on 22nd July, 1587, when the settlers, led by John White, first landed there; only to discover that a previous colony had been wiped out by hostile tribespeople.

This new settlement, however, was under immense pressure to succeed – as it was financed by Sir Walter Raleigh, who needed to establish a permanent colony by 1591 to retain his charter from Queen Elizabeth. Yet, a few years later, White returned to find the colony abandoned, with the word “Croatoan” carved into a post. Where had they gone?

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly investigate the theories offered up over the years; explain how the narrative of hostile natives skewed the data; and check out the “Dare Stones”, claiming to be messages from Virginia Dare’s mother… 

Further Reading:

• ‘The Lost Colony of Roanoke’ (Reader’s Digest, 1992):

https://www.historyfiles.co.uk/FeaturesAmericas/NorthColonial_English02.htm

• ’The Roanoke Island Colony: Lost, and Found?’ (The New York Times, 2015): https://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/11/science/the-roanoke-colonists-lost-and-found.html

• ’The Colony of Roanoke’s Mysterious Disappearance | The UnXplained’ (History Channel, 2022):

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OLLY MANN

Olly Mann made his name with another trivia-wielding podcast, Answer Me This! with Helen Zaltzman – and now presents The Modern Mann, The Week Unwrapped, and Four Thought for BBC Radio Four. He also has an A-Level in History, so Dan Snow beware.

REBECCA MESSINA

Rebecca got a passion for podcasting  working at The Week magazine and a passion for trivia appearing on University Challenge in 2011, making The Retrospectors her natural home.

ARION MCNICOLL

Arion started out in satirical news in Australia, then moved to the UK to work for ostensibly serious publications including The Times, CNN, and The Week… before realising that since around 2016 the news has all been satire really.

Do you have a day of note that we should cover? Or would you or your business like to support the podcast? Get in touch!

    22 Jul: The Roanoke Mystery

    What happened to the ‘Lost Colony’ at Roanoke? It’s a mystery that’s intrigued American historians for centuries - and one that began on 22nd July, 1587, when the settlers, led by John White, first landed there; only to discover that a previous colony had been wiped out by hostile tribespeople.This…

    19 Jul: Marathon Begat Snickers

    Rerun: The world’s biggest-selling chocolate bar underwent a name-change in Britain on 19th July, 1990. Until then - concerned that Brits might refer to their candy as ‘knickers’ - Snickers had been known as ‘Marathon’ in the UK. 31 years later, the decision still smarts for some sections of the confectionary-buying…

    17 Jul: Publishing Punch

    Punch Magazine published its first edition on 17th July, 1841. Subtitled ‘the London Charivari’, the weekly periodical aimed to carve a niche in the market with less crude and bawdy satire compared to its contemporaries. Its early days were challenging, with poor circulation and financial troubles. But, as it gained in…

    16 Jul: The Birth Of The Parking Meter

    The world’s first parking meter was installed in Oklahoma City on July 16th, 1935.Park-O-Meter No. 1 was the brainchild Carl C. Magee, who’d moved to Oklahoma after being acquitted of manslaughter in New Mexico. Indignant opponents of his system considered paying for parking to be un-American, as it forced drivers…

    15 Jul: When London Stank

    The ‘Great Stink’ - when the stench of untreated human and industrial waste was amplified by a particularly hot Summer - reached a peak on 15th July, 1858, when members of Parliament lead by Benjamin Disraeli rushed through an emergency cleanup bill, kickstarting a transformative revamp of London’s sewage system.Prior…