Is Fabled Lost Colony Underneath North Carolina Golf Course?

Researchers with the British Museum say they have a found a symbol hidden on an ancient map that might show where members of the Lost Colony - the earliest American settlers who disappeared from North Carolina's Roanoke Island - may have set up residence.

The 420-year-old mystery may be solved at Scotch Hall Preserve, a golf course and residential community just across Albemarle Sound from Edenton. The elaborate "Virginea Pars" map was created by members of Sir Walter Raleigh's Roanoke County expeditions in 1584-1590, the first attempt to establish an English colony in the New World.

The amazingly accurate map shows the coastal area from Chesapeake Bay to Cape Lookout and identifies the locations of several Native American villages. Brent Lane, an adjunct professor of Heritage Education at the University of North Carolina Kenan Institute and a scholar with the First Colony Foundation, was studying a map drawn by the leader of the expedition, John White, when he found two patches of paper pasted over small parts of it.

Lane asked British Museum officials if they had tried to determine what was under the patches. They hadn't. But when they put the map on a light table, one patch covered a large symbol that appeared to show a fort.

The patch appears to be at or near the current Scotch Hall Preserve, a 900-acre development on North Carolina's Inner Banks. Greenville, S.C.-based IMI Living, which oversees the community, released a statement concerning the news that the Lost Colony may be on its property:

"All of us at Scotch Hall Preserve commend Brent Lane of UNC-Chapel Hill, the First Colony Foundation and the British Museum for their work in continuing to unravel the 400-year old mystery of what happened to the Roanoke Island Lost Colonists," said the statement.

"We understand the team will now begin to research existing archival material in light of the 'rediscovered' John White map featured in news reports. It will be exciting for Bertie County and all of Eastern North Carolina to follow these next chapters in the quest for answers about the Sir Walter Raleigh colonists.

"We look forward to working with Brent Lane and other appropriate entities in support of their efforts."

During his early expedition Raleigh planned to establish a capital, the "Cittie of Raleigh." After his first visit to the New World, White left Roanoke Island and returned to England for more supplies. But he couldn't return until 1590 because of the outbreak of war between England and Spain.

When White was able to return, the 95-settler colony had disappeared. The Lost Colony Foundation is encouraged by the discovery, saying pottery found in the area matches the correct time period.