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Solving America's Oldest Mystery

Finding Croatoan follows Scott Dawson, a native of Hatteras Island, North Carolina searching for evidence to prove the whereabouts of the infamous "Lost Colony" of Roanoke Island - America’s oldest mystery since 1587. Scott has been enamored with the local lore and historical significance of the Outer Banks since childhood. With no formal archeological training Scott has made it his life's mission to prove the colony went to Hatteras Island, known as Croatoan. Scott's efforts got the attention of Dr. Mark Horton from England's University of Bristol, who has been digging in the area since 2009. This is a true David vs Goliath story, following a ragtag group of locals who believe their history is being overlooked by a myth perpetuated for economic reasons.  Because they haven't published their findings yet, most people don't know about what CAS has accomplished. But soon, they are ready to share it with the world. 

This film explores heritage and culture in this unique corner of the world and the fragile ecosystem its residents both endure and care for. It also explores the clash of science, art, and commerce in an area that relies on tourism while trying to preserve an honest account of its history.

The Story
The History


The Lost Colony of Roanoke Island

Tired of the Spanish getting all the good stuff from the New World, Sir Walter Raleigh wanted to set up a colony so England could get its slice of the pie.  He got his buddy John White, and 114 other colonists to pick up from England and establish a colony on Roanoke Island off the coast of what is now North Carolina. They built shelters, made nice with the natives and had a baby.

It turned out living in a harsh land completely separated from civilization was hard. It wasn’t long before the colony was in desperate need of supplies. John White sailed back to England on a mission of mercy to save the colony. Meanwhile, Spain declares war on England and traps John White in England for 3 years.

By the time he makes it back to Roanoke in 1590, his daughter, granddaughter and everyone else was gone...vanished into thin air with only the vague scrawl of the word “Croatoan” on a tree. The Colony was officially Lost, establishing America's Oldest Mystery that is still unsolved today…  or is it?


Scott Dawson

Scott Dawson is an author, teacher, and the president and founder of Croatoan Archaeological Society.  A native of Hatteras Island, Dawson grew up less than a mile from  Croatoan village site and has always been interested in the history of the Island. His family can trace their roots on Hatteras back to the 1600’s when a Dutchman named Thomas Mueller shipwrecked on the island, was rescued by the Croatoan Indians, and later married a Croatoan woman named Rea. In 2002, Scott received a degree in Psychology with a minor in history from the University of Tennessee. Currently, Scott teaches history, is a firefighter, and lives in Kill Devil Hills where with his wife and 2 daughters.

The Native
The Professor


Dr. Mark Horton

Dr. Mark Horton is a specialist in the archaeology of historical societies around the world. Mark was educated at Cambridge University, and has a PhD (1984). He is a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. His research focuses on historical archaeology, historical landscapes, maritime landscapes, long distance trade and social responses, early spread of Islam and Christianity, archaeology and the media. He works regularly with radio and television. He is one of the team of expert presenters for the BBC2 Coast programme and Inside Out (BBC1)  His current projects include survey and excavation on Hatteras Island, North Carolina, the Sealinks project, the Songo Mnara Project (Tanzania), the Upper Kherlen Valley survey (Eastern Mongolia) and the Berkeley Castle Project (Gloucestershire, England).

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