“SITE X” and now “SITE Y”
Did Lost Colonists come to the Salmon Creek area in Bertie County?
Two recently-discovered archaeological sites in Bertie County are changing historians' understanding of the fate of North Carolina's famous "Lost Colony".
Known simply as Site X and Site Y, these two nearby locations have yielded hundreds of artifacts since 2018. Archaeologists from the First Colony Foundation (FCF) believe these sites have to be related to John White and 117 English settlers who arrived on NC's shores in 1587 intending to establish a colony in the name of Sir Walter Raleigh. Site X is located at the mouth of Salmon Creek where it meets the Albemarle Sound, while Site Y is a mile or so north on a high bluff up the shoreline. They are both in the area where a symbol for an English fort appears under a patch on John White’s “Virginiea Pars” map.
FCF archaeologists and a large crew of volunteers have found English pottery sherds and other artifacts here that they believe must be associated with the Roanoke Colonists. In addition to the Surrey - Hampshire Border ware pottery sherds, they have found sherds of North Devon baluster jar, London redware, Essex fine redware, Spanish olive jars, Frechen stoneware from Germany, and Martin-camp stoneware from France - all of which the Foundation describes as "Roanoke Colonist Period Ceramics".
Foundation researchers are confident that these artifacts do not date from the Nathaniel Batts 1655 homestead, which is approximately two miles away and is considered the first permanent English settlement in the region. The absence of large-bore pipe stems among the artifacts is also evidence that this was not the site of an otherwise unknown English settlement from a later period.
In addition, no Late Woodland Native American items have been found intermingled with the English material, indicating the site is not a Native village which obtained English pottery through trade or aggression.
Since analysis of the artifacts shows Site X and Site Y are not later English settlements, and also that the the items are not remnants of trade between Natives and colonists, they can only indicate that at least some of Roanoke Colonists came to live in this area. John White himself wrote that the Albemarle shore was the ultimate aim for his colony, and Natives nearby were known to be more accepting of the English than coastal tribes.
FCF believes Site Y was likely a small English family farm located close enough to a central unbuilt/undiscovered English fort for protection, but freestanding to allow crop growth and expansion of the colony. FCF will keep digging for more answers, and we will let you know what they find!