Underwater Archeology Projects in Outer Banks Parks Address Intriguing Questions
Where is the rest of the original English settlement site on Roanoke Island? What more can we learn about the location and condition of German submarines that were sunk along the North Carolina coast? These and other interesting questions are being addressed by underwater archeologists working at Fort Raleigh National Historic Site and Cape Hatteras National Seashore during May and June.
At Fort Raleigh, a team of divers led by Professor Gordon Watts (Institute of Nautical Archeology) will explore the bottom not far from shore in the “Barrel Beach” area close to The Lost Colony complex. Hoping to find additional evidence of the original English settlement site (1584-1590), the exact location of which remains a mystery, the archeologists will further examine tantalizing geophysical anomalies previously found in the area.
Nearby, a First Colony Foundation project will continue excavating and exploring the Thomas Harriot Trail Site vicinity. Several new finds made there during the past two years have shed light on the past inhabitants of the locale where the first (and tragically unsuccessful) English attempt at colonization of the New World began.
At nearby Cape Hatteras National Seashore, a partnership has been formed to tackle a project of even larger scale and complexity, the Shipwrecks of the Graveyard of the Atlantic project. Drawing on the combined resources of the Field School of Maritime History and Underwater Research, East Carolina University , the National Park Service Submerged Cultural Resource Unit, the University of North Carolina-Coastal Studies Institute, the North Carolina State Underwater Archeology Unit, and the NOAA Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, the project will send a team of underwater archeologists to dive and document the wrecks of German submarines located off the North Carolina coast.
Although German submarines sank 60 ships in these waters early in World War II, the U-boats themselves became relatively easy targets later in the war. A number of them were sunk, and nearly all of the U-boat wrecks have been looted by unscrupulous divers.
The archeology divers will also examine and document several shipwrecks close to the Pamlico Sound shoreline in the Salvo Day Use Area vicinity. Some shipwrecks exposed along Cape Hatteras National Seashore beaches will also be documented, and remains of the three-masted schooner Laura A. Barnes (wrecked off Nags Head in 1921) will be excavated.
For additional information, contact Cape Hatteras National Seashore headquarters at 252-473-2111.