Because of the historical links between the Caribbean and English settlements in Virginia and North Carolina, this item is interesting indeed.
Theories abound about what happened to the so-called Lost Colony, ranging from sober scholarship to science fiction. Some historians believe that the colonists might have been absorbed into American Indian tribes. Other explanations point to darker fates, like disease, an attack by Spaniards or violence at the hands of Indians. The wild-eyed fringe hints at cannibalism and even alien abduction.
The shroud of mystery may finally be lifting. The British Museum’s re-examination of a 16th-century coastal map using 21st-century imaging techniques has revealed hidden markings that show an inland fort where the colonists could have resettled after abandoning the coast. [. . .] 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.
James Horn, vice president of research and historical interpretation at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, cautioned that the Lost Colony had not been found. But the findings do provide the clearest marker yet for future archaeological excavations, which, if successful, could pinpoint where the settlers went. [. . .] The discovery came from a watercolor map in the British Museum’s permanent collection that was drawn by the colony’s governor, John White. Hoping to establish a New World foothold for the English, White took the settlers to their original location, Roanoke Island, just inside the chain of barrier islands known today as the Outer Banks. It was the second English settlement on North Carolina’s coast, but it was the first to include civilians, among them wives, sons and — within weeks of their arrival in 1587 — White’s newborn granddaughter, Virginia Dare.
White returned to England for supplies, but an attack by the Spanish Armada delayed his return for three years. When he did return, the settlers had vanished. Over time, the colony has spawned endless speculation and mythology, with Virginia Dare as its face. A 1937 Postal Service stamp featured her image as a baby. Time magazine included her among “top 10 famous disappearances,” along with the Lindbergh baby and Amelia Earhart. [. . .] In the past there had been hints as to where the settlers might have gone — White himself made an oblique reference to a destination 50 miles inland — but no solid evidence had surfaced.
Even White’s map, which was included in a 2007 British Museum exhibition, appeared to hold no clues. But two small patches layered atop the map intrigued Brent Lane, a member of the board of the First Colony Foundation who was helping research the site of an American Indian village. Mapmakers in the era often used the patches, overlaying new paper atop old to correct mistakes and repair damage. Mr. Lane speculated that one of the patches could mask an Indian village.
The British Museum agreed to investigate, and it used infrared light, X-ray spectroscopy and other imaging techniques to look beneath the patches. The larger patch, which was the focus of Mr. Lane’s curiosity, indeed appeared to show a correction to coastal topography. What lay under the second one stunned Mr. Lane. The patch hid a four-pointed star outlined in blue and filled in red, according to the British Museum’s report. The patch also covered a smaller, enigmatic marking, possibly a second settlement. [. . .]
For original article, see http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/04/us/map-markings-offer-clues-to-lost-colony.html