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'Buried Worlds with Don Wildman' Episode 3: Are the souls of Roanoke colonists haunting the Old House Woods?

Wildman investigates the possible link between the hauntings in old House Woods, Virginia, and the English colony of Roanoke that disappeared without a trace over 500 years ago

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In the latest episode of 'Buried Worlds with Don Wildman', the Travel Channel host explores one of America's well-known unsolved mysteries, the Lost Colony of Roanoke. Matthew County, a sleepy town in Virginia, has experienced a slew of paranormal activity in its Old House Woods.

Local lores suggest that the ghosts of colonial people have been spotted in these woods, prompting Wildman to investigate Virginia's connection to the English colony that disappeared without a trace over 500 years ago and 100 miles away in South Carolina. He retraces the path of a strange relic and investigates the possibility of Old World dark magic contributing to the doom of the settlers in the New World. 

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Roanoke Island

The mystery surrounding the Lost Colony of Roanoke dates back to the Elizabethan era. In 1584, an English vessel arrived on the shores of Carolina carrying its first group of colonists comprising mostly military excursionists, and the natives residing on land guided them to Roanoke Island. The land was described to be filled with crops and welcoming Indians, as a brand new Garden of Eden. Roanoke Island was located in what was then called 'Virginia', named after England's ruling monarch, Elizabeth I, the 'Virgin Queen'. The first settlement in the New World was founded by the Queen's favorite explorer, Sir Walter Raleigh. 

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(Travel Channel)

In 1587, a second group carried and comprised entirely of families with 17 women, 11 children and 90 men. It was clear then that the English colonists intended to settle in the World. According to local lore, however, the group was headed towards North-West, most likely the Chesapeake Bay, but stopped by Roanoke, where the first group had disembarked three years prior. Among the group of settlers was the English governor, John White, accompanied by his daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter. But the second settlement didn't have it easy. Modern-day rumors say that the Roanakians faced a lot of hostility from Native Americans, while the harsh environment made it difficult for them to thrive.

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At some point, they faced a serious food shortage that left them on the brink of starvation, which prompted White to set sail for England and retrieve more supplies. It was when he returned in 1590 that he found the island utterly deserted. Abandoned without a trace of the colonists, save for a single skeleton on the beach and the words 'CROATOAN' carved on a tree, White couldn't fathom what had happened in the three years that he had been gone. The Croatoans were a native tribe that lived on the Island.

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One of the many theories surrounding the mystery of the Lost of Colony of Roanoke is that they might have simulated into the Croatoan tribe themselves. However, there has been absolutely no evidence found that can support this claim. Another rumor that is quite popular today is the possibility that the Native Americans on the island attacked the English settlers because they thought they engaged in supernatural practices. The Croatoan tribe may have witnessed the Roanokians practising bizarre black magic around a campfire on the beach, which may have led them to slaughter the white settlers.

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(Travel Channel)

Another belief, also the theory that Wildman intends to investigate, is that they went North because that's where they were initially headed — to the Chesapeake Bay. Could they have landed in Virginia? Wildman meets with a local historian in Matthew County in search of any kind of evidence that points to the possibility of Roanokians stepping foot in Virginia, 500 years ago. He is presented with an old Spanish coin, minted in the 1580s and found in Matthew County. In the 16th Century, people were allowed to travel outside of England with English money, so one would use the Spanish currency to carry out transactions.

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Captain John Smith (Travel Channel)

About 20 years after the Roanoke Colony mysteriously disappeared, Captain John Smith, an avid sailor arrived in Virginia and founded Jamestown, another New World settlement colony about 30 miles away from Matthew County. Smith's journals apparently hold a vital clue regarding the lost colony. A year after Jamestown was founded, Smith spoke with the local chieftain, Powhatan asking him if they knew about the English people that came to Virginia some two decades years ago. Powhatan is said to have responded to Smith in the affirmative, informing him that it was in fact he who had them slaughtered. 

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Old House Woods

Old House Woods is reportedly among the most haunted remote forests in the world. It is supposedly cursed and recently has also been a hot-bed of paranormal activity. The woods overlook the Chesapeake Bay and surround by swamps and marshland. Its history dates back to the 1700s around the time of the Revolutionary War. The forest served as a refuge to many soldiers and pirates who sought the dense foliage in the forest as a secret getaway during the century and well into the Civil War era.

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(Travel Channel)

In Matthew County, people grow up hearing stories about pirates and ghost ships that appear and disappear out of sight. Local lore also suggests that the area house a buried treasure that had been left along the shore by pirates in the 1600s. According to the legend, the buccaneers perished in a massive storm that raged through the town, and the treasure was lost. However, even in the afterlife, they are unwilling to let go of their precious loot.

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Wildman met with local paranormal investigators and ventured into the woods in hopes that he would the ghosts that people have reportedly been seeing. There has been an uptick in paranormal activity in the woods as of recent and many locals claimed to have seen full-body apparitions that look like colonists. They setup equipment and tried to communicate with the spirits in the forest. Wildman wanted any form of validation for the rumors that he had been hearing.  

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Cow Hole (Travel Channel)

After asking around and speaking with locals, Wildman learns that his only chance at finding any proof is the "cow hole", a mysterious swamp in the heart of Old House Woods where dozens of artefacts and bones have been found. People believe that this particular swamp is cursed because it never freezes over when the snow falls and houses a bottomless sinkhole. People claimed to have seen full-body apparitions of women in billowy dresses and men in 16th-century knickers. Wildman decides to explore the swamp by himself, trying to find any evidence from the swamp floors. 

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Elizabethan clothing. Men in knickers (Travel Channel)

He also sits through meeting with town locals, who gather sit together and share their personal experiences from their time spent in the old house woods. One person claimed to have heard the sound of horse-drawn carriages but there was no visible source, while another claimed to have seen a ghost ship sailing 10 feet off the ground. Some said they had seen soldiers dressed in blue uniforms,  with helmets that sported plumes, which were common in the colonial times. One witness described an incident where his friend had been possessed and started speaking and yelling in a strange tongue, over a decade ago. Wildman met with the friend, who recalled the traumatic experience and said he had been possessed by a demon who would frequently use his body as a vessel. His research into the demon possession led him to some shocking revelations related to satanic cults and the Enochian language. 

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'Buried Worlds with Don Wildman' premieres on Mondays at 9 pm ET/PT on Travel Channel.


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