Wanchese, North Carolina

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Wanchese is a census-designated place (CDP) on Roanoke Island in Dare County, North Carolina, United States. It was named after Wanchese, the last known ruler of the Roanoke Native American tribe encountered by English colonists in the sixteenth century. The population was 1,527 at the 2000 census.



Wanchese is located at 35°50′42″N 75°38′22″W / 35.845046°N 75.639544°W / 35.845046; -75.639544,[3] and on the southern end of Roanoke Island.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 5.5 square miles (14.2 km2), of which, 4.7 square miles (12.1 km2) of it is land and 0.8 square miles (2.0 km2) of it (14.26%) is water.


Archeological evidence shows that Wanchese was the site of the first fishing village on Roanoke Island. Indigenous people inhabited the area 1500 years ago, and their various cultures used this site for fishing for 1100 years. They also collected oysters and shellfish from nearby beds in the Sound.[4]

What is called the Tillett Site (after the last owners) had been occupied originally when it was still part of the mainland, during the entire Archaic Period (8000-1000 BC). After the sea levels rose and it became an island, the saline conditions of the Sound became established, giving rise to the later indigenous fishing culture, including that of the historic Roanoke tribe.[4]

Three later periods of occupation were identified:

  • Mount Pleasant component, beginning around 400 and ending around 800;
  • Colington component, the prehistoric manifestation of the Carolina Algonkian culture, from 800 to 1650; and
  • Historic period component, related mostly to the Green family use of the site as a farmstead from c. 1884 to 1910/20. There was also fishing in this area.

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