Mystery of the Dare Stones

On November 14, 1937, a team of Emory University professors revealed the transcription of a message carved on a rock discovered by Louis Hammond in Chowan County earlier that year. The text of their transcription reads:

[Side 1]

Ananias Dare &
Virginia Went Hence
Unto Heaven 1591
Anye Englishman Shew
John White Govr Via.

[Side 2]

Father Soone After You
Goe for England Wee Cam
Hither / Onlie Misarie & Warre
Tow Yeere / Above Halfe Deade ere Tow
Yeere More From Sickenes Beine Foure & Twentie /
Salvage with Message of Shipp Unto Us / Smal
Space of Time they Affrite of Revenge Rann
Al Awaye / Wee Bleeve it Nott You / Soone After
Ye Salvages Faine Spirits Angrie / Suddaine
Murther Al Save Seaven / Mine Childe /
Ananais to Slaine wth Much Misarie /
Burie Al Neere Foure Myles Easte This River
Uppon Small Hil / Names Writ Al Ther
On Rocke / Putt This Ther Alsoe / Salvage
Shew This Unto You & Hither Wee
Promise You to Give Greate
Plentie Presents

The message on what came to be known as the “Dare Stone” appeared to be Eleanor White Dare’s recounting of the fate of the Lost Colony from almost 350 years earlier. The Dare Stone’s authenticity is still debated, but the most recent study of the stone done by David LaVere at UNC-Wilmington leaned toward confirming its veracity.

The front of the original Dare Stone. Image courtesy of Brenau University.

Not long after Hammond turned the stone over to scholars, he disappeared. Later efforts to find him or information about him proved fruitless. Since a number of events related to the Lost Colony, including the debut of a new outdoor drama by Paul Green, were underway to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the English attempt to establish a permanent colony in the New World at that time, some believed the stone to be a promotional stunt.

Complicating the authenticity questions were a number of other “Dare Stone” discoveries in scattered locations. These came to light after the public offer of a reward for such stones. All but the original are universally deemed to be forgeries.

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