Monday, June 28, 2010

Barrell Beach at Roanoke Island Scene of Intense Maritime Investigation

Institute for International Maritime Research, Inc:
Raleigh Colony Investigation Update 2010
By Bill Utley

Dr. Gordon Watts uses a hydro probe

Ray Hayes, Bill Utley, and Josh Daniel prepare to use the suction dredge.

The Institute for International Maritime Research, Inc (IIMR), working for the First Colony Foundation, and under the direction of Dr. Gordon Watts, assisted by Josh Daniel, Dr. Ray Hayes, and Bill Utley, conducted Part 1 of the 2010 continuing survey searching for the Lost Colony of 1587. The survey was conducted with the cooperation of the National Park Service. The work, which lasted from 16 to 22 May, consisted of sand lift operations testing a shallow area off the northeast end of Roanoke Island, NC.

Dr. Gordon Watts,Josh Daniel, and Ray Hayes at the barrel Well  Site.

Dr. Gordon Watts, Josh Daniel, and Ray Hayes at the barrel Well Site.

The area, known locally as “barrel beach”, is an area in National Park Service waters adjoining Fort Raleigh Park land. It was in the area in the 1990s that the remains of two barrel wells were found just off a small sand beach in very shallow water. Barrel wells were a common land feature, particularly in new settlements, but anywhere water was needed and not readily visible. It simply meant that wells were dug and barrels, or their equivalent (even a large hollwed tree could be used), were used to line the hole as it got deeper - in place of later bricks and stone in more settled areas. It was also in this area that an axe head was found dating back to the end of the 16th century.

Wind conditions plagued the first three days of the effort. Since the area is so shallow, relatively calm conditions were needed to position the support boat, which had to anchor just off a submerged anti-erosion barrier. The boat was needed to deploy and run the sand lift, and the water depth was just under 4 feet at the anchor spot.

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