• Dogwoods in bloom during the spring

    Fort Raleigh

    National Historic Site North Carolina

Roanoke Revisited Unit 2

Exploration of Roanoke Island, 1584

Almost bounded by Sir Francis Drake's circumnavigation of the globe in 1580 and the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, the first phase of English colonizing efforts in the New World was initiated by Sir Humphrey Gilbert and continued by his half-brother Sir Walter Ralegh. Gilbert, after an aborted voyage in 1578, took possession of Newfoundland in 1583, but was lost at sea on his return to England. Shortly thereafter, Ralegh received a patent to plant settlements in the unclaimed area south of Gilbert's territory. Exercising his grant with amazing speed, he prepared a reconnaissance voyage which departed England on 27 April 1584, and arrive at the coast of what is now North Carolina, appropriately enough, on the 4th of July.

The following links develop separate aspects of the half-brothers' reconnaissance voyages:

Ships of the Roanoke Voyages
Navigation and Related Instruments in 16th-Century England

Sir Humphrey Gilbert

Amadas and Barlowe

Atlantic Crossings

Did You Know?

John White's map of Roanoke Island

Roanoke Island was meant to be a brief stop for the 1587 Colonists, but was never planned to be their new home. Their final destination was meant to be the Chesapeake Bay, two days sail further north.