The signet ring was found during the Fall 1998 field session in the general debris around an Indian workshop/trading center dating to the period ca. 1650-1715. The remaining sections of the heavily patinated ring's shank were worn paper thin and most of the shank was broken away, indicating it was probably an heirloom at the time of its discard. The workshop was dated by coins and lead bale seals of the 1670's and other artifacts. Both Indian materials (shell beads and bone ring beads) and metal artifacts (lead shot, copper beads and figurines) were being produced there, and European goods (brass pins, brass and copper raw material, buttons, gunflints and gun parts, cloth) were obtained in trade. The workshop feature is only a small time slice of the Cape Creek site, which was first occupied at least by AD 400. It became the Croatan capital town ca. AD 800 and remained the major town of the Croatan through AD 1759, when it and 200 acres around it were granted to the Hatteras Indians (historic name given to the Croatan by Colonials) by Royal Governor Arthur Dobbs.
Project researchers, with the aid of experts at the Royal College of Arms in London, have traced the prancing lion crest on the ring to one used by the Kendall family in the 16th century. Two Kendalls were associated with the Roanoke Colony of 1585-1586, the Ralph Lane colony. One, a "Master" Kendall, was listed as one of Lane's gentlemen supervisory committee. He may have been one of the twenty men sent to live at Croatan for a month in the Spring of 1586, and is the most likely owner of the ring. The other, Abraham Kendall, was one of Sir Francis Drake's ship captains at the time Drake's fleet anchored at Croatan for a few days before taking the Lane Colony back to England. There were no Kendalls associated with the 1587 "Lost Colony" although much speculation on this connection has appeared in the media. The main importance of the ring is that it confirms Cape Creek as the site of Croatan during the period of the Roanoke Voyages and its interaction with at least the 1585-1586 colony.
The processor of this collection is indebted to Professor Emeritus David Sutton Phelps for the information contained in the Historical Note and the Collection Overview.
For security and controlled environmental curation purposes, the signet ring was transferred to the Special Collections Department in Joyner Library on February 1, 2006. All other specimens from the Cape Creek site are curated at the East Carolina University Archaeology Laboratory under Accession No. 1283.