Lost on Roanoke Island North Carolina

History can be full of surprises, especially when you get to re-live it yourself.

Twenty three years before a permanent British settlement was established at Jamestown in the colony of Virginia, that stalwart of British adventurers Sir Walter Raleigh had established a settlement on Roanoke Island in, what is now, North Carolina.

In 1587 117 men, women and children, spurred on by reports about its lush vegetation, mild climate, and friendly Indians, arrived on Roanoke Island to establish a settlement. One month after their arrival, the first English child to be born on American soil arrived. When the colony was next visited a few years later, everyone had disappeared without trace, and it was forever referred to as the Lost Colony.

Today the modern town of Manteo, in Dare County, occupies the shores of Shallowbag Bay and it is here that each summer the story of the Lost Colony is re-enacted by a company of more than 100 actors, dancers, singers and technicians. A tradition that has been repeated each year since 1937. Manteo is named after one of the Croatan Indians who assisted Raleigh’s representatives when they first set foot on the island in 1584.

That entertaining show forms just part of historical activities which take place on Roanoke Island. The Roanoke Island Festival Park is a 25-acre interactive historic site representing that first English settlement attempt.

At the Settlement Site costumed interpreters from the Roanoke Voyage of 1585 show visitors what daily life must have been like for the soldiers and sailors who traversed the Atlantic Ocean to build a permanent colony for England. The life of the indigenous people is recreated in the Indian Village where traditional longhouses have been built. About 30 feet in length, these longhouses show how typical life would have been for the local Indians, and in another section of the village common farming methods are exhibited.

Moored in Shadowbag Bay the Elizabeth II, a ship that has been built in the same style of the seven ships that made the voyage to Roanoke Island, is open for inspection. Visitors are encouraged to help set the sails and swab the deck, and to learn just how difficult it was to undertake a long sea voyage onboard a 16th century vessel.

Other activities at the Roanoke Island Festival Park include an adventure museum, a maritime museum, a history centre and a recreation of the original lighthouse which was built in 1877.

The whereabouts of the original settlers may be lost in time, but by visiting Roanoke Island you will get more than a few clues about how they lived.

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