More than 400 years later, historians are still trying to crack the case. Did the colonists move away? Were they attacked by enemies? No bones or graves belonging to the colonists were discovered on Roanoke. But clues were found nearby.
Researchers dug up artifacts, including a sword handle and stone writing tablet, on the island of Croatoan (now called Hatteras). And pieces of old English pottery were found 50 miles west of Roanoke, in an area researchers call Site X.
Eric Klingelhofer is an archaeologist with the research group First Colony Foundation. He says these clues suggest that the colonists split up and moved away. But others say the items could have belonged to Native Americans who traded with European colonists. Experts continue to search for answers.
“We’ll keep digging until we solve this mystery, one of the greatest in American history,” Klingelhofer says.