Excavating the Lost Colony Mystery

The Map, the Search, the Discovery

Edited by Eric Klingelhofer

144 pp., 8.5 x 11, 121 color plates, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-7375-2
    Published: November 2023
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-7376-9
    Published: October 2023

Buy this Book

For Professors:
Free E-Exam Copies

To purchase online via an independent bookstore, visit Bookshop.org
The fate of Sir Walter Raleigh's 1587 "Lost Colony" on Roanoke Island has been one of the most enduring mysteries in the history of European settlement in North America. For generations, writers, scholars, and others have speculated about the disappearance of more than one hundred colonists, whose only obvious clue left behind was the word "CROATOAN" carved on the palisade of the settlement. But in the early 1990s, archaeologists at Roanoke opened fresh lines of inquiry, and in 2012 the search for evidence gained new momentum when a reexamination of an Elizabethan map revealed a hidden symbol. The symbol seemed to indicate the location of a Renaissance-style fort some distance from Roanoke Island, starting the quest for "Site X." After leading a team to explore multiple lines of research, Eric Klingelhofer here draws together the fullest possible account of what can be known today about the colony. The book features authoritative research by historians, archaeologists, and other experts, and it is richly illustrated with maps and photographs, including never-before-seen artifacts recovered in recent excavations. While some of the Lost Colony's mysteries may never be solved, readers will enjoy this informative and accessible account of efforts to reconstruct events more than four centuries ago.

Contributors include: Peter Barber, Phillip Evans, James Horn, Karen Ordahl Kupperman, Nicholas Luccketti, Kim Sloan, Beverly Straube, and Edward Clay Swindell.

Published in association with the First Colony Foundation.

About the Author

Eric Klingelhofer is emeritus professor of history at Mercer University.
For more information about Eric Klingelhofer, visit the Author Page.


"Klingelhofer and his impressive roster of associates offer us a carefully documented chronicle of two decades of creative research into the fate of Sir Walter Raleigh's effort to plant a permanent English colony on the Carolina coast. Unlike hundreds of previous efforts seeking that same end, these essays set forth in meticulous detail the most promising results of their documentary, cartographical, archaeological, historical, and literary investigations."—Larry E. Tise, author of Circa 1903: North Carolina's Outer Banks at the Dawn of Flight

"This engaging book gives readers the tools to judge claims concerning the Lost Colony, and it also demonstrates the process of historical research and the kinds of questions documentary and archaeological research can and can't answer."—Charles R. Ewen, East Carolina University