The First Colony Foundation, a North Carolina 501(c)(3) non-profit organization formed in 2004, is dedicated to conducting archaeological and historical research, combined with public education and interpretation, relating to the story of North Carolina and America's beginnings with the attempts by Sir Walter Raleigh to establish English colonies at Roanoke Island in the 1580s under his charter from Queen Elizabeth I.
Our State and Nation were born upon the arrival of Sir Walter Raleigh's Roanoke Island colonists. Their story is not only one of the most important in American history, but also a compelling saga of vision, struggle, and sacrifice as portrayed in the outdoor drama "The Lost Colony." But the physical location of where they lived, worked, worshipped, and perhaps died is unknown and may soon be lost forever. The domestic settlement site of the Roanoke colonies has never been determined by either historical or archaeological evidence, and the most likely candidates are disappearing. North Carolinians and those visiting from outside the state cannot walk the streets or stand amidst the house sites of the original "Cittie of Raleigh," the birthplace of Virginia Dare. And it may soon be too late to hope they ever will. Roanoke Island's north end is being impacted by erosion and important evidence that can identify the lost site is being lost. Our last tangible links with the Roanoke colonists are being torn from the shoreline and scattered into the surrounding waters where they may never be discovered or recovered.
The First Colony Foundation, a North Carolina 501(c)(3) non-profit organization formed in 2004 and committed to archaeological and historical research relating to the Roanoke colonies, is working to protect this important legacy for North Carolina and the nation. The First Colony Foundation (FCF) has assembled an expert team of historical archaeologists and historians of great experience with sites of early colonization to develop a strategy to identify and reveal the sites of the early Raleigh colonies.
The FCF has initiated both underwater research and limited excavations to determine what the impact of erosion has already been and what artifacts might lie on the floor of Roanoke Sound. FCF underwater archaeologist Dr. Gordon Watts, one of the principal discoverers of the wrecks of the USS Monitor off the coast of North Carolina and the CSS Alabama off the coast of France, has completed two seasons of underwater dive testing of targets identified by remote sensing in Roanoke Sound, but many other targets their, in Shallowbag Bay, and along Broad Creek remain unexamined.
The FCF archaeologists Eric Klingelhofer (a recognized expert in proto-colonial archaeology on both sides of the Atlantic) and Nick Luccketti (one of the finders of James Fort of 1607 and a recognized expert in excavation of early colonial sites) have in 2006 lead a team of archaeologists in conducting test excavations in one of the most endangered shoreline areas of the National Park Service's Fort Raleigh National Historic Site near Manteo on Roanoke Island.
The FCF has contributed to new research by a National Park Service historian in the archives of Spain to discover new traces of the Roanoke story from another perspective. Perhaps most importantly the First Colony Foundation has secured and has begun through these programs working under an agreement with the National Park Service as partners in archaeological and historical research relating to the Roanoke colonies at the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. The First Colony Foundation also assisted the NC Museum of History to develop and mount an exhibition from the British Museum in London on the watercolors of John White (grandfather of Virginia Dare and governor of the "Lost Colony" of 1587), along with exhibitions about Sir Walter Raleigh's Roanoke scientists Thomas Hariot and Joachim Ganz.
The FCF seeks your support to develop this research and public exhibition program to a level that can truly have a meaningful and lasting impact. The FCF archaeologists and historians need the resources to conduct survey and excavation programs to fully identify, uncover, and protect any surviving archaeological remains.