In 1587, the colony of Roanoke was established on a small island along the coast of present-day North Carolina.  115 men and women eagerly arrived at what they thought would become the first permanent English settlement in the new world.  The group was well stocked with supplies, and lived in secure structures that offered good protection from the elements and any unfriendly neighbors.

The mystery of Roanoke began when a supply ship returned in 1590 to find not a single living soul, and no evidence of war, famine or any other possible reason for the colony’s complete disappearance.  In fact, there is still no generally accepted explanation for what happened to those settlers.  ZRS Researcher, Andre Freeman, suggests that it may have been the work of zombies.

Freeman considered the findings of noted Harvard Archeologist, Lawrence Stager, who unearthed evidence of mass cannibalism at the Roanoke site.  He also points to reports from local tribes stating that the colonists died in a great war within their own ranks.

“A sudden undead plague sweeping through the unprepared colony would quickly become a horrific, violent feast, leaving not a single man, woman or child alive.”

He goes on to suggest that the relative isolation of the settlement, and time elapsed before the return of the supply ship, would allow for the remaining colonial zombies to rot back into the earth.  Without any humans left to feed on, so no way to spread the infection, the zombie outbreak would have simply died off.

If Freeman is correct, there could be something sinister still in the ground on Roanoke Island, waiting to be released into a modern population that is more advanced, more connected, but just as unprepared as ever.



  1. You must be a idiot. I have lived a few miles from roanoke island most of my life. My mother and my grandparents grew up there. There is no factual basis for your claim of cannibalism within the roanoke colony. Jamestown yes but not roanoke. DO some real research before you post garbage.

  2. Everyone thinking zombies aren’t real, you are factually correct, but also incorrect. The term ‘Zombie’ means in a dazed, confused state, and/or an unresponsive cannibal. In 2013 a virus was found dubbed as ‘Solanum’ which, in 24 hours, reanimates a human corpse and gives it the appetite for human flesh. The only known way of turning into one of these cannibals is through a bite. No air, water, or food contact. Those of you who think zombies are nothing but a figment of someone’s imagination, talk to the people who actually research zombies, and give them facts why they can’t and won’t exist.

    • Solanum is a fictitious virus created by Max Brooks in his book “The Zombie Survival Guide.” It was also referenced in his later novel “World War Z.”

      • And how is it fictional if there have been countless reports of the dead attacking in third world country’s? Given the fact that he made the name, he certainly didn’t make the virus, which has been around for a long time.

  3. I live in NC, and what if the infected survivors went on to infect others and there are still some zombies are stalking the backwoods of NC right now?

  4. Sooooooo Ridonculous Zombies REALLY?

    – someone from Mr. H’s class Period 6

  5. PLEASE READ!!! I have just thought of this and I want feed back and it makes total since to me. Wendigo, if you don’t know what a wendigo is, it’s an ancient Native American spirit that takes over a Humans body after they have committed cannibalism. Wendigos are described as very strong humanoid creatures that are extremely well hunters at night, also they are described to be hundreds of years old, and one last thing, they are forbidden to live solely off of human flesh. I think that after the people of Roanoke had committed cannibalism the Native American tribe summoned this spirit to take over their body’s and they had then turned into wendigos, then they evacuated to much cooler climates, because they do not like heat.

  6. It may have been zombies or may not have been, but if it was zombies the lack of evidence doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. The ship was gone for three years if the zombie virus was responsible, three years would have been enough time for the zombie contagion to spread through the colony, and the zombies to die and rot away or eaten by animals as well as the bodies of the colonists and the ship came back in 1590 it looked like the colony was deserted. I think instead of dismissing it we should investigate it. after all, nobody knows what happened it is just as good as the other explanations. Keep up the good work ZRS

  7. Hi peeps from Mrs. H’s class! This is soooo ridonkulous! Yes, I meant to say ridonkulous

    • Little Miss Puffin

      This really is ridonkulous! I mean seriously, Zombies?!??! That is the most dumb theory I have ever heard about Roanoke Island. The theory is so dumb, that the word ridonkulous fits it perfectly. Ridonkulous should be in the Oxford Dictionary saying, “Meaning: Very dumb and makes no sense”, because the theory makes no sense.

      • Why did they cut peoples heads off, boil them, then bury them seperatly from their body? Why did 2 entirely digferent empires across the world from each other that didnt have any contact know to cut the heads off of the dead?

    • You never know, darling. MZ here, btw.

    • Little Miss Puffin

      That is ridonkulous!!! I mean seriously??!?!?!

      — Someone from Mrs. H’s Period 5!!

  8. Zombies? That is ridiculous! Zombies aren’t real, dummy.

  9. Zombies? Really? Where and how could you come up with something that ridiculous? First of all they were stuck there for 3 years without basic supplys. Back then even if they had the best of circumstanses staying self contained without seed, farming supplys and tools, medicine which was poor if that, etc they would have almost certainly not been able to last during winter, being attacked by neighboring indians that did not want them there, who knows what else could have happened. For all anyone knows there could have been a plauge where they had to take the bodies far away and burned trying to stop it from spreading. The majority of the village may have died and the remaining few may have abadoned the village leaving it to be picked through by the indians. Theres litterally thousands of explainations. The only one that wouldnt make sense is Zombies. Wow really? I hate to break this to you that think they are real but they were made up in Hollywood by writers and costume designers for TV entertainment. ZOMBIES dont exist and never will.

    • This is arguably the first sensible comment I have read here

    • We hope you’re right.

    • Well no, this is not entirely true. It is false to claim that Zombies were a fabrication of Hollywood. The concept of the undead dates back thousands of years, so you’re, generally speaking, wrong on all points just with that, however, the modern day conceptualization of Zombies even pre-dates Hollywood, given that Hollywood used the writings of explorers who spent time in Haiti, and witnessed drug induced “zombification” of people per local rituals. If there’s a chemical basis for something like this, then it indeed exists in reality as we know it. Find a copy of “The Serpent and The Rainbow” to find out what I’m talking about.

      • nonexistent person

        I think the concept of the undead came from a healthy fear of dead things. Carcasses carry lots of dangerous diseases and a natural fear of the dead would work to our advantage. We just took it to the next level by undead myths and superstition. I can’t remember which civilization did this, but when a member died in a household, they would carry their dead blindfolded and facing the ground so if the dead “came back” they would not remember the way to the home. They would also fill in the door and make one on another wall to further trick the dead.

    • First of all, take it for what it is and try not to sharpshoot something that is obviously meant for entertainment. Secondly: Supplies, Circumstances, Plague, There is, Explanations. Finally, See Brad above. Dumbass.

    • And lets not forget the word the found carved in the Tree “Croton” which was the name of the local indian tribe.

  10. Its a zombie outbreak. There SHOULD be signs of war. Their fighting zombies and they would have fought them. Colony leader John White left for England and after three years of not sending an expedition (because of an English war with Spain), he led one again. When he returned, he did find all buildings dismantled which meant tha there was time to do that. Time that would not be given if there was a zombie outbreak. You also forgot to mention that the word “Croatoan” was inscribed on the wooden palisade wall. Whoever had the time to randomly write the name of a Native American tribe was not worried about zombies.

  11. i think this could be an iteresting twist to the whole thing, like most of you i read the story of the lost colony and it fascinated me, Now in my older years i look for rationality in all of my conclusions. But this isnt a rational event, whos to say it was zombies, No one else has a clear answer.

  12. how long does it take for a human body to decompose?? i think it might take more than three years im a strong supporter of zombies but it would make more sense the the local tribes killed them and fixed everything so it would look like nothing was wrong too keep a horrific backlash from happening to them

  13. i saw an 80s zombie movie the other day which said it was a true story at the beginning…..i have no clue when it took place but it had cars in it so it was probably the 1950’s or 60’s maybe the 40’s. anyone know the name of this movie and if it actually did happen? i heard it was covered up by the government so the people wouldnt panic…….and if zombies were actually in existance dont you think we would have stumbled onto one by now….i doubt they are that smart to hide as well as they are. idk…i’m not a doubter i’m just sceptical….i honestly beleive in aliens before i beleive in zombies

  14. as much as a zombie fan i am. im afraid i have to disagree with this. what happened was the people on Roanoke realized their colony sucked and went to live with the croatan Indians. evidence of this is when their investigation was interrupted by blue eyed pale Indians.

    • That may be what happened, but you can’t deny that there is still no accepted reason why they all disappeared. Some experts agree with your theory, but many don’t and have evidence to support their view. The fact is it remains a mystery.

  15. with all this being said….
    on a lighter note…
    Jesus was a zombie… he died and he came back…

    just to clear things up… in the movie I am Legend… the charachter played by Will Smith even called them “vampires” they were not zombies, they did have a form of intelligence… zombies have no thoughts or process other than to find food… they are driven by the most basic desires of all… and that is to feed…

    Zombie Killer by Profession – Undead lover by choice…

  16. I personally think that this possible outbreak could be linked to the proposed ancient mayan outbreak. I think that this is what happened.
    1. Mayan destruction by zombie plague (I don’t know why this happened so I’m leaving it up to speculation.)
    2. Zombies wander central America.
    3.Smaller tribes overrun and eaten.
    4. Larger tribes become aware of zombie existence and how to fight them.
    5.Zombies do 3 things- Go south where they eventually die and/or decay in the jungles, become wiped out by the larger central american tribes, or go north (i presume these are the only ones that “survived”, or as close to surviving as a zombie may do.)
    6. Zombies in North America spread west, where they are defeated by the great plains native american tribes. This would explain the practice of cannibalism in so many native tribes. The zombies could be the ultimate warrior to them- fearless and powerful. They may have adopted the practice out of respect.
    7.Zombies left on the east coast are (almost) entirely wiped out. Zombies that get to Roanoke Island (I’m not sure how) stay, possibly wiping out a weaker tribe there.
    8. Colonists land.
    9. Colonists eventually attacked by zombies.
    10. Most colonists eaten, the rest are saved by the Croatoan tribe who are knowledged on the zombies. They destroy the bodies, knowing zombies often rise from the grave and take the rest of the settlers into their own tribe. This would explain the white skinned natives of this tribe.
    11. Second colonization attempt of Roanoke, same process from numbers 8-10.

    This is just wild speculation, but it could provide an explanation. Anybody else have ideas on this?

  17. As supportive I am of the Zombie theories, I think there would be a hell of a lot of dead bodies scattered around if it had been Zombies….

  18. ya but were did there buildings go??? haaaaaAAA, haaaAAA, HAAAAAAAAAA????? But I like this theory.

  19. they did not have the proper structures or supplies to survive. think about it, 100 people, they have to chop down their own trees, build their own houses, and find food in an enviroment they’ve never been in before. and the indians were probably hostile too

    • what about the jamestown colony in america? similar number, conditions, etc… think about it…….

    • All those things are just how they did it in those days. I once read an account of a woman who’s husband had gone off to trade and she was left at home pregnant and alone. The same day she had the baby she also had to cut fire wood. People were tough back then, and settlers knew they had hard work infront of them. Plus, the ships that brought them there also had supplies and livestock to get the settlements started.

  20. I worked at The Lost Colony, a theatre litterally in the area of the Lost Colony. I can honestly say it would not have been zombies. There are several theories as to what happened to the Colonists… but zombie plague is not one of them… maybe the may flies, misquitos, or the Indians, but no zombism….

  21. I think this is taking a bit of a stab in the dark if you ask me.

  22. The only other possibility was that the colonists fled to Croatoan, which was where a nearby friendly tribe was located. Although as it is stated in this article there were reports of conflict. I checked the web for further info, however, as always, there is little to follow upon.

    • The colonists leaving to join the Croatan tribe is certainly a possibility, but with all the research done (not by ZRS, but by archeologists across the world) that is still not a generally accepted theory. Which means there is enough evidence to suggest to many that they did not join Croatan.

    • The ones who survived the first zombie attack could have gone there.

  23. If I may say a few things: I Am Legend is indeed a movie about vampires. Obviously with the sun issue. Their thought process seemed maybe violent and rabid but more advanced than one of a zombie’s. Just because they had a little flesh with their blood does not make them any less of a vampire =P

    And call me a paranoid psycho, but with the traces of cannibolism and no trace of people, this theory seems quite possible to me. It was an older time where a disease could have possibly sprouted from a certain native insect/animal. An animal or bug bite/sting could have spread it through humans. I don’t doubt it one bit. And isolated island? I don’t doubt it.

  24. Growing up in North Carolina i was exposed to this story alot and was given the opportunity to go to Roanoke Island and do studies on it. Many locals believe that the “Lost Colony” was never really lost in the first place and that it was more the case of the Lost Ship. Basically this means they dropped them off at Harkers Island North Carolina which is another remote island and when they went back they went to Roanoke or one of the other barrier islands (not like they had GPS back then). i dont know if thats right obviously its only a theory but thats something alot of North Carolinians and myself believe.

  25. It’s an interesting theory. Let’s say it was, and that is what wiped out the colonists. As I’ve said before, Zombie is a base-instinct kind of animal. They would have gone in search of food once their supply ran out. It’s possible that, since the virus appeared after arrival (still speculating as if this IS the answer and running with it from there), it was native. Therefore, any indigenous locals would have had some experience dealing with small-ish outbreaks of this sort, which is exactly how they would trickle into the neighboring populace. I don’t know that I buy the “rot back into the ground” thoery, though. Still, it’s an interesting theory. And, given the religious and spiritual proclivities of the native tribes, it’s entirely possible that no further information came to light due to a taboo about discussing such things. It could be that, to them, it is a disgraceful or “bad” death, and to discuss it is to do a disservice to the spirit of the victims.

    • The Algonquian natives did have a belief in the “wendigo”, a cannibalistic famine spirit which could possess people and turn them into new wendigos. The wendigo is described thus, by Ojibway ethnologist Basil Johnston:

      “The Wendigo was gaunt to the point of emaciation, its desiccated skin pulled tautly over its bones. With its bones pushing out against its skin, its complexion the ash gray of death, and its eyes pushed back deep into their sockets, the Wendigo looked like a gaunt skeleton recently disinterred from the grave. What lips it had were tattered and bloody [….] Unclean and suffering from suppurations of the flesh, the Weendigo gave off a strange and eerie odor of decay and decomposition, of death and corruption.”

      Wendigos spent all of their time relentlessly hunting, killing, and eating humans in an effort to sate their endless hunger. “Wendigo psychosis” was a culture-bound sydrome whereby native Algonquians became convinced that they were becoming wendigos upon developing an insatiable urge to eat human flesh, usually (but interestingly, not always) after resorting to cannibalism in a famine circumstance. (Due to the extreme taboo against cannibalism, the proper response to a famine circumstance was to commit suicide rather than risk becoming possessed by a wendigo.) Those suffering from wendigo syndrome usually recognized the symptoms and asked their neighbors and shamans to kill them before the transformation was completed. The local shamans usually attempted to evict the wendigo spirit before resorting to execution; however, there were rare but confirmed cases where “wendigos” became violent and began attempting to kill and eat those around them, and were summarily executed by the tribe.

      The most famous of the recorded cases is Swift Runner, who murdered and ate his wife, mother, brother, and six children in spite of available food only 25 miles away, and later admitted to the murder and was executed by Canadian authorities. Almost 100 years prior to this, there is a record from the Hudson’s Bay Company post journal at Fort Churchill of an unidentified native man who killed and ate his youngest child and oldest son, in spite of the proliferation of deer and elk which the man would usually have hunted for food. He was slain by his wife and mother-in-law while killing and attempting to eat his final child, after having followed them through the wilderness for three days while they fled from him. Unlike Swift Runner, who expressed remorse for his actions, this unidentified man was described by his surviving wife as acting in a feral, extremely aggressive fashion, whereas he had previously been a steadfast hunter, whom the colonists had contracted to hunt geese for them in the fall and spring.

      Until the later stages of colonization, when the native Algonquian came into much closer contact with European colonists, natives were characteristically reluctant to discuss wendigos, of either the spiritual or human form, with outsiders. The extreme taboo concerning cannibalism may have played a role in this– frequently, even discussing a malevolent spirit might be considered enough to attract its attention, and the attention of a wendigo meant that the speaker would shortly become one himself. Even in records which discuss cannibalism among the natives to whom the wendigo would have been a known threat, they were wary of mentioning the actual word wendigo, and would avoid the topic if at all possible.

      (Interesting side note: someone who was only “on the way” to becoming a wendigo– someone who was still able to beg for execution, in other words, and had the potential to be cured by a sufficiently powerful shaman– could be killed in any of the usual ways that humans can be killed. But a true wendigo– one who had already begun to kill and eat his fellows– was almost always executed with a strike to the head. The unidentified native man mentioned in the post journal at Fort Churchill struggled for some time with his wife and mother-in-law, and managed to kill his daughter in the midst of that fight while both women were trying to kill him– he was only successfully killed when his wife hacked into his skull with a hatchet.)

      • I’ve heard the “wendigo” story before, just no much detail, good job………speak of the “Devil” and he will appear…….so don’t talk about him.

  26. thebombchicken

    If the island does still exist, I think it should be turned into the new Alcatraz and let prisoners eat the fruits and vegetables grown from the ground. THEN we will see what we see..

  27. Jeremy Wold, you’re taking things a bit too seriously. Some people like to speculate on mysteries. Doesn’t mean anything less on them. I like a good debate as well as anybody.

    As for the “more logical” reasons, there were half-native half-English children reported in the regions nearby. I think they just ran out of food and company, so they found a local group of natives and merged with their new world. No one ever found them because few Europeans at the time were friendly enough with the natives to go around with a picture asking if they’d seen anyone.

  28. So, if I write this for my AP US History exam on Friday if the this is the essay topic, do you guys think I will get 9 points? xD

  29. Some of you keep talking about them running out of food an leaving. Read please…
    The mystery of Roanoke began when a supply ship returned in 1590 to find not a single living soul, and no evidence of war, famine or any other possible reason for the colony’s complete disappearance.
    Freeman considered the findings of noted Harvard Archeologist, Lawrence Stager, who unearthed evidence of mass cannibalism at the Roanoke site.
    Cannibalism could very well mean zombies. Anyone ever see the Web Blog “Woke up dead”?
    Other than his “Special Powers” he was still normal but had to eat brains. LOL I know this blog is just fiction, but still this would be cannibalism.

  30. is this a reputable source?????? it sounds pretty real. i’m kind of scared now…

  31. Lawrence Stager has suggested that the colony might have been eaten by cannibals. Personally I think they left to another island because they were in danger hence the “Croatoan” carved on the tree to tell people where they were going. Why they were leaving is anyone’s guess. Lack of food and skills to live off the land could have played part

  32. Of course this COULD be zombies but without wishful thinking something along the lines of Jonestown where a guy thinking he was a form of God formed a community eventually leading them all to commit suicide for no particular reason.

    • True – but it took Jones decades of brainwashing his people in california before they ever moved to jonestown, and we’re only talking about a three year window. Plus, where were all the bones?

      • Where would the bones be from the last zombies who zombiefied everybody if this island was indeed full of zombies? 🙂

        • According to the theory, the bones deteriorated over time. The supply ship that returned wasn’t looking for bones, so they could have been there, and then over the next several decades they rotted back into the earth. Or, it is possible that the zombies walked off the island, and were swept away in ocean currents and rotted there.

      • Also remember that most of the people did not gulp down the Flavor Aid with a smile. They did it at gun point.

  33. This website is frustrating. You people jump on anything and call it Zombies. It obviously was not zombies. There was no evidence of any violent behavior, and the entire settlement had been dismantled, so they clearly were not in any hurry. Not zombies.

    Maybe try uhm, thinking?? You guys throw this crap up here simply because you can’t find anything else. It’s almost like you didn’t research it at all.

    • While I will agree it wasn’t zombies, Roanoke is a mystery still unsolved. The settlement was not dismantled, simply empty.

    • What the hell did you think you were getting into?? ZOMBIE research society not the ” hey this is a completly sound and level headed way of thinking reseach society”, where is the fun in that?!?

    • In defense of the article, a there was recently evidence found of mass cannibalism. That fact is undisputed, and only adds to the mystery.

    • If this site frustrates you so much; then why did you bother to leave a comment on this article?
      ZRS provides these articles to read and to speculate upon. this article does not state that there is concrete evidence that it was in fact zombies.

      If you do not like what you read on this site, Jeremy, then find another place to go trolling.

  34. As much as Zombies would be an interesting thing, it’s pretty doubtful, because if something could create a zombie naturally/magically the source would be around still or would happen again or in other places.

    Probably a series of events brought on by home sickness and paranoia and bad preperation.

    Also we don’t know the rate of zombies decay, it can’t be the same of a normal dead corpse, this is a zombie the laws of nature do not abide. Aswell zombies if real might not even be the undead, they might just be living people (I am legend).

    • Slight correction: I Am Legend was about vampires, not zombies.

      Also, ZRS argues that zombies DO live under the same laws on nature and science as all other creatures. That is the basis of our study.

      • the book was about vampires. the MOVIE was about zombies. heres the summary of the movie. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0480249/plotsummary

      • In reply to Pat’s comment on this.

        Actually if you read the synopsis provided by Warner Brothers, there is no mention of Zombie’s, only that it’s a plague. It is an IMDB user that wrote the second synopsis and called them zombies.

        The fact that the infected are allergic to sunlight demonstrates that the virus does not turn them into zombies but in fact a form of vampires.

      • sun allergy or none, this is how to tell the difference: vampires suck your blood and dont bother with the rest of you. thats what they did in the book. zombies take every part of you. flesh, blood and internal organs. some zombies eat just your brain. its been proven these cannot exist in real life but they can and have existed in movies so lets leave them in. those infected with a “rage virus” (28 days later) simply beat the shit out of you. i have not actually watched i am legend but will someone who has please clear this up?

        • The only zombies that specifically targeted brains were the ones in Return of the Living Dead, which was more of a gore comedy than a horror. The “beings” in I Am Legend were the outcome of an experiment gone wrong, just as in 28 Days Later. Calling either a zombie is inaccurate.

    • “if something could create a zombie naturally/magically the source would be around still or ‘would happen again or in other places’.”

      It’s normally by complete chance that a virus cell mutates, and creates a new virus to spread. Say there is a virus that can infect a certain species, like a cow for example. One of this virus’ cells can randomly mutate, and will then be able to infect another species, like a human. This newly mutated human virus can then spread, and infect a large (or small) portion of the human race. It’s extremely unlikely that another of the cow virus cells will also mutate, in the exact same way as the first cell did (especially in a different area, with different living conditions etc.), and affect humans.
      (I apoligise if I’m completely wrong here, I’m no expert :p but I’ve seen & read a fair few things on virus’)

    • I think the point Alex was trying to make involved the idea of Zombies being infected with something rather than corpses that forgot the rules of being dead.

  35. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to learn about this. The fact that a recent (historically speaking) disappearance can’t be explained lends itself to many theories. I think I’ve even heard about aliens and Roanoke as well.

    Cannibalism: Supplies ran out and food became scarce, and people started dying. One group wanted to eat the dead to survive, the other group disagreed. Eventually it came down to a fight and they either killed each other off or one group won and exhausted the last of the resources.

    Hopefully that is the way it went down and had nothing to do with zombies. Because if zombie were indeed involved, then whatever turned the people to begin with is still probably on the island in one form or another.

    My question is, what kind of evidence did Stager find that might support zombification of the island inhabitants? Gnawed upon bones by human looking teeth? I’ll go look into this for my own curiosity. I’m interested in the legends the tribes have of Roanoke.

    And if the zombies died and decayed on the island, could they infect things that come into contact with them today? And what of zombies who would have walked off into the ocean? Were they able to come back onto the mainland somewhere or did they decay in the water? I wonder what the ocean currents were at that time and where they could have washed up and the legends that involved there.

  36. this is why i hate history class………….

  37. you know this is an interesting story but I am just impressed that there is a picture of a zombie maiden out that is just surprising

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Scroll To Top