Skip To Content

    5 Theories About How The Lost Colony Of Roanoke Mysteriously Vanished

    An entire colony gone missing.

    On this episode of Buzzfeed Unsolved, Ryan and Shane investigate the Roanoke Colony.

    View this video on YouTube

    BuzzFeedBlue / Via

    On May 8, 1587, approximately 127 settlers sailed from England to Roanoke Island — off the coast of what’s now known as North Carolina.

    John White was the settlement’s governor, and they wanted him to get them more food, tools, and people.

    White’s timing was poor, as England was on the verge of going to war with Spain who had a strong fleet of ships. Because of this, White wasn’t able to return to Roanoke for three years.

    When he returned in August 1590, the entire colony had vanished without a trace.

    The only clue was the word “Croatoan” carved into a fence post, and “crow,” carved into a tree.

    White returned to Europe, then moved to Ireland, where he passed away in 1593, never knowing what’d happened to his colony.

    Theory One: The settlers were murdered by a local Native American tribe.

    Theory Two: The Settlers joined a nearby, friendly Native American tribe and assimilated.

    Theory Three: The colonists didn’t move to Croatoan, they moved inland.

    There are also supernatural possibilities that’ve been considered, like the following…

    Theory Four: The colonists were abducted by aliens.

    Theory Five: The colony disappeared via a zombie plague.

    While there are countless possibilities, there simply isn't enough evidence to definitively know how the colonists vanished. For now, the mystery of what happened on Roanoke remains unsolved.