north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program



Marker Text:

      The Roanoke colonies, altogether three attempts at colonization on the eastern shores of what would become North Carolina, laid the foundation for later English colonization initiatives. In April 1584, explorers Phillip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe set out from England to survey the coast near Cape Hatteras. In the course of their expedition, they encountered few obstacles and their positive report prompted Sir Walter Ralegh to establish a colony in the New World.

      In 1585 Sir Richard Grenville, Ralegh’s cousin, sent seven ships loaded with colonists and provisions to establish a colony on Roanoke Island. They left England on April 9, 1585. By the end of June they had arrived at Wococon on the Outer Banks. In July a detachment of colonists, with Manteo as interpreter, ventured out to explore the land beyond the sound and visited the native villages of Pomeiok, Aquascogoc, and Secotan. On July 18 all but one of the boats returned to Wococon. The remaining boat took Amadas, Manteo, and a few other men back to Aquascogoc to “demand a silver cup which one of the Savages had stolen from us.”

      It is unclear exactly what transpired at Aquascogoc—whether the Aquascogocs denied having the cup or whether they thought the English were taking back a gift. The weroance (leader) apparently promised the cup’s return as an effort to stall the English long enough to clear the women and children out of the village. He may have heard Wanchese’s ominous tales of the untrustworthy Englishmen. Amadas waited for a while before noticing the people clearing the village and he reacted with unconscionable violence. The chronicler of the trip recorded that the men “burnt, and spoyled their Corne, and Towne, all the people being fledde.”

      About three weeks into the attempted colonization of the “New World,” the English committed the first atrocity against the natives at Aquascogoc. The town and the food supply were destroyed because of a missing silver cup. Word of the violence traveled to the various Algonquian communities and would not have been an encouraging omen for the Indians. The specific location of Aquascogoc has not been determined through archaeological investigation, but it is generally accepted to have been just southeast of modern day Belhaven.

Michael L. Oberg, The Head in Edward Nugent’s Hand (2008)
Maurice A. Mook, “Algonkian Ethnohistory of the Carolina Sound,” Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences, Vol. 34, No. 6 (June 15, 1944)
David Beers Quinn, Set Fair for Roanoke (1985)
J. Norman Heard, Handbook of the American Frontier: Four Centuries of Indian-White Relationships (1987)
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north carolina highway historical marker program

© 2008 North Carolina Office of Archives & History — Department of Cultural Resources