N.C. site could be old English settlement

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It's not quite Eleanor Dare's jewelry box, but the artifacts that archaeologists recently dug up at Fort Raleigh National Historic Site might hold some historic dazzle.

"We definitely found a historic site from the Colonial period," said Nick Luccketti, a founding member of the nonprofit First Colony Foundation. "It's a candidate for the first permanent English settlement on Roanoke Island, but I certainly wouldn't want to bet on it at this point."

Luccketti, who i s the principal archaeologist for the James River Institute for Archaeology in Williamsburg, said the bits of bone, fish scales and ceramic, as well as metal buckles and buttons, that were unearthed in a late November excavation appear to date to sometime between 1680 and 1750.

"There's a number of artifacts suggesting that the English were doing something there," he said.

Examination of the pottery pieces reveal that the latest the site was occupied "dates solidly to the first half of the 18th century," Luccketti said, but the earliest date - possibly the late 1600s - still has to be determined.

The excavation was one in a series of digs the foundation, which has a permit with the National Park Service, has conducted since it was established in 2004 to renew long-stalled exploration of Fort Raleigh on Roanoke Island.

Despite the link to national parks and being the purported location of the Lost Colony settlement, no evidence of either has ever been found during at least 33 excavations over decades.

Meanwhile, the foundation also has plans to explore underwater at Broad Creek in Wanchese, where about a half-dozen pieces of copper and European glass beads were found about three years ago.

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