Gordon Watts to lead underwater research team on an exploration of Roanoke Island’s Broad Creek in June 2009

Beginning June 15, Dr. Gordon P. Watts, Jr., Director of the International Institute of Maritime Research in Washington North Carolina and a founding First Colony Foundation Board Member, will lead his experienced team of underwater historians and archaeologists, including Roanoke Island research veterans Ray Hayes and Bill Utley, on a week long study of Broad Creek near Wanchese, North Carolina.

One of their primary objectives is to perform test excavations at or near the location where the 16th century European and Algonquian artifacts were recovered at the mouth of a “mosquito” ditch on Broad Creek. The team will be trying to determine if the artifacts were associated with an isolated incident or are indicative of more complex activity in the area.

In addition, Gordon and his team will be using remote sensing including high resolution side scan sonar, cesium vapor magnetometers, and digital sub-bottom profilers to try to determine if any 16th century vessel remains might be present in the creek. It is possible they will have to may be run two research boats to accomplish both objectives simultaneously.

In the area where sixteenth-century artifacts were previously recovered, one or possibly two small test pits will be excavated.

Broad Creek is one of two areas on the east side of Roanoke Island (the other being Shallowbag Bay) that would have been a good and secure anchorage for the small vessels that supported the Elizabethan colonies.


Phil Evans
First Colony Foundation