The Dare stone of Roanoke

In 1937, a guy walks into the History department of Emory University in Atlanta with a stone tablet that he claims he found on a drive through North Carolina.

When presenting the item, he claims it to be a stone with carvings on it relating to the lost colony of Roanoke.

To give you some backstory of the history of the Roanoke colony:

In 1587, a colony was established on an island off the coast of North Carolina called Roanoke Island. As far as we know, this was the first English-speaking settlement on U.S. soil. The governor was a man named John White. With him, he had his daughter, Eleanor White Dare and his son-in-law Ananias Dare.

After establishing the colony, John White had to travel back to England to get supplies for the settlement but upon arrival to England the navy commandeered his ship to battle the Spaniards, since the war between the two nations had started and escalated at that point. Since White had no ship to travel back to America with, he had to wait a couple of years before being able to travel back. In 1590, White was finally able to start his travel back to America, but on arrival, he discovers that the colony had disappeared without any trace. The only thing he found was a carving on the forts palisade reading “CROATOAN”.

To this day, no one knows what happened to the people of Roanoke, but many theories suggest Aliens being the cause, or that the settlement were abducted into another dimension. Some ‘realistic’ theorists suggest that the settlement died of a disease. But that would be highly unlikely since there were no traces of the settlement/colony when John White arrived at the location.

Back to the stone

At first, when the man brought the stone in to the university, historians were not willing to investigate the find, since they probably were very skeptical to the authenticity of the carvings. The man had found the stone 130 km (80 miles) from Roanoke island. Because of this fact, they didn’t think it would be interesting to investigate a fake stone, except for one professor by the name of Hayward Pearce, Jr.

He was very intrigued about the find and wanted to further investigate the carvings. He took it with him back to Brenau University in Gainesville, Georgia – where his father was president and Pearce vice-president.

Original researchers of the Dare Stone

The first test/examination of the stone showed it to be genuine, agreed by a Historian from Harvard, Samuel Eliot Morison. This created a lot of excitement in the community and many believed that the history and mystery of the Roanoke settlement had been solved, but it also triggered a chain reaction to many people creating fakes trying to ride the fame and glory of the initial find.

Almost 50 stones “emerged” by 1941.

Thanks to this discovery, Bernau University was placed in a position of importance. It even helped to boost the careers of the stone’s main advocates. Unfortunately, as usual, there are going to be a lot of skepticism surrounding new findings and theories. Later in 1941, an article in the Saturday Evening Post, dismissed the authenticity of the so-called ‘Dare Stone’ (named after the name carved into the stone as a signature, Eleanor White Dare) and called it a hoax.

Among the articles main arguments for it being a hoax, they claim that the linguistic style of the message wasn’t used at the time. According to Elizabethan scholar, Samuel Tannenbaum, only well-educated people used Roman letters. Other people with some education used Gothic script to write.

The article also stated that the words in the text were ‘too consistent’ when there wasn’t any standardized way of spelling the English words back in the 16th century. Combined, these two arguments (together with all the fakes being brought into the light) destroyed the whole theory of authenticity of the stone. Reputations were damaged and mysteriously, the stone disappeared from display at Brenau University.

In 2016, Ed Schrader, a geologist and president of Brenau University took a closer look at the type of stone used for the inscription of the original find. (Disregard all the fakes after the first discovery!)

He took a sample from the stone and analyzed it. The interior of the stone was much lighter than the surface, which indicated aging. It was more lightly colored than the inscription as well, suggesting that the inscription had also aged.

With this information, we can determine that the stone might actually be authentic, since the inscription is darker in color than the inside of the stone. This suggests that the stone has gone through a couple of hundred years in aging.

With todays chemicals, one could fabricate the aging of the stone, but with the limited resources back in the 30’s it’s very unlikely, since the chemicals hadn’t been discovered yet.
Even with todays Elizabethan scholars, they can’t be sure of the authenticity of the building of words on the stone, which also shows that the stone can’t be confirmed as a hoax.

Is it really a hoax, or was this discovery important to be able to further investigate the real reason of the demise of the Roanoke settlement?

Karl Gustav