FORT HILL,
PAINT VALLEY

HOPEWELL MOUND GROUP

About 3˝ miles west of downtown Chillicothe, turn northwest on Anderson Station Road where, after 2˝ miles, a large open field on the right will be the site of the brilliant Hopewell Mound Group. For its astonishing complexity and spectacular artifacts, this became the “type site” of the entire culture, as defined by archaeologists. It may be visited as part of Hopewell Culture National Historical Park.

Though subtle today, the wide profile of the large, 3-lobed mound (re-arranged after excavations) can be detected in the large field to the right of the road; a new trail leads to the surviving walls and ditches that survive intact across the hilltop to the north, and that still retain water as was likely intended by their makers (as at Fort Ancient).

The huge irregular enclosure contained many rings and mounds, some of earlier Adena origin, and some still being discovered by National Park staff’s remote-sensing methods. The red-soiled perfect square (likely a later addition to the design) is too worn down by agriculture to be visible on the ground today, but begins just west of the small parking area.

Here along the North Fork of Paint Creek, the ancients built probably their most revered sanctuary. Walls and ditches enclose 127 acres. To the north, they climb to the upper terrace; to the east is a perfect square. Water is on all sides.

Archaeologists call this the “type site,” meaning they have named the whole culture after this location (It was Mordecai Hopewell’s farm in the 1890s.) Yet it is anything but typical.

It is the largest of the geometric enclosures. It contains the smallest, and the largest mounds. The most spectacular burials were found here, and the most astonishing deposits of precious objects. Not much is visible on the ground today. Even so, in the summer of 2001, using advanced remote sensing instruments, National Park Service staff discovered a new circular earthwork out here among these mounds.

The Paint and Scioto Valleys are the heartland of this ancient culture, with the richest concentration of their geometric earthworks.

Hopewell Mound Group reconstruction, showing its composite design: part geometric, part hilltop, part irregular, and with many mounds and interior enclosures.

Fort Hill, Paint Valley

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