Ohio Travel and Tourism: 27 Largest Ancient Burial Mounds in Ohio

                                   Ohio  Travel and Tourism: 27 Largest Ancient Burial Mounds in Ohio                 

Adams County, Ohio

History of Adams County, Ohio, 1900
      About one-half mile north of Winchester is a fine mound and three circles, the walls of which were when first discovered about five feet high. These circles are about 150 feet in diameter. At the crossing of Seventh and Broadway in the town of Manchester stood a most beautiful mound twenty-five feet high and perfect as a cone. It is said the Ellison heirs who owned the land had this beautiful tumulus dug down and carted away.

Large burial mound located north of Winchester, Ohio that also included an earthwork, that was similar to the Pollock Works near Cedarville, Ohio.

    “Four miles north of the town of Athens, Athens County, is a broad and level plain, upon which is situated a large group of ancient earthworks. The accompanying plan and description were furnished by S.P. Hildreth, M.D., of Marietta Ohio. "The plain upon which these remains occur is not far from a mile and a half long, by a mile and a quarter broad, and contains upwards of one thousand acresAll around the margin of the plain, where not bordered by hills, burst forth copious springs of fresh water, which are most abundant in the vicinity of the principle ancient works. Most of these works occupy the southeastern portion of the plain. They consist of a number of small circles, accompanied by mounds, the several dimensions of which are given in the accompanying plan. The largest circle is situated upon a detached point of land, of the same level with the adjacent plain, from which it is cut off by a deep ravine, in which flows a small stream. The detached portion contains not far from six acres. The circle itself has a diameter of two hundred and ten feet; the diameter of the enclosed area is one hundred and thirty feet; the height of the wall is seven feet, and the depth of the ditch is six feet. In all these circles, the ditch is interior to the embankment.”
The largest mound that was part of a larger henge complex can still be seen near Athens Ohio.  Many of the burial mounds in Athens County contained the remains of large skeletons. There are 7 more mound sites to visit within Athens County, Ohio.

Brown County, Ohio

Historical Collections of Brown County, Ohio 1969. “Aborigine Graves in the Valley,” (Report from Chillicothe, Ohio, February 15, 1898)
       For a distance of 25 miles along the Ohio River, from Manchester, Ohio, to Dover, Kentucky, there are many stone groves or cairns, being most abundant on the Kentucky side of the river from Maysville to Dover, and on the Ohio side from Manchester to Ripley. Many of these cairns have been despoiled by ignorant whites, who believed them to be treasure houses, but in the extreme southwestern part of Brown County there are a number of cairns which have never been opened. It was this place that Mr. Fowke went, and there he opened and thoroughly examined five cairns.
The first cairn, which was much the largest that has yet been discovered, was located high on a hill two miles east of Aberdeen. It measured 34 by 37 feet. A grave was found on the southeast, with bottom and sides of stone slabs. Under the bottom of this grave was another like it, and many human bones had been ground to pieces between the slabs. A grave was also found which antedates the mound, and contained some charcoal and burned animals.
Two extended skeletons were found 10 feet south of the center, one directly above the other, with a foot of earth between. The heads of both skeletons were toward the northeast. It was evident that with each fresh internment, a grave had been uncovered and the stones comprising the floor of the next grave laid directly on the bones beneath, showing little of that veneration for the dead usually ascribed to the aborigines. A very large grave measuring four by nine feet, was also found in this cairn.

 Large burial mound overlooking the Ohio River.  Overgrown and not maintained is the general rule of most of the mounds in Ohio.  

History of Brown County, Ohio, 1883
    The ancient remains of Brown County are chiefly mounds, enclosures and cist. It cannot be said that any law governing the arrangement or distribution of these works has been discovered. They are, perhaps, most numerous in the valley near the Ohio, but they are found on the flat lands in the north of the county, and also on the most inaccessible places.

Large burial mound that is currently being obliterated by the plow.  The Ohio Historical Society lists this mound as "address restricted" believing that if "you" know about it, it will be destroyed. Meanwhile, it is being destroyed.

History of Butler County, Ohio, 1882
      The largest of all the mounds within the county is that in Madison Township, located on the land of Joseph Henry. It is forty-three feet high, and contains nearly twenty-five thousand feet of clay. From its position and height it must have been the principle watchtower for the people of the surrounding country, and the one which received the signals from the Great Mound near Miamisburg.

This one of the largest Mounds on the Miami River drainage.  What looks like two  peaks on the top of the mound is the result of it being trenched by the Ohio Historical Society. 

Near the last mound is the largest stone mound in Ohio.  It is left covered in heavy brush and tangles of briers.  There are additional mounds, earthworks, ceremonial centers in Butler County, Ohio, that is one of the richest counties in prehistoric remains.  Yet,  nothing is preserved.  

Clark County, Ohio

History of Clark County, Ohio, 1908
       It is frequently referred to as “Knob Prairie Mound,” and is on the line of march of General Clark on his way to the battle of Piqua. His officers ascended its summit to reconnoiter the surrounding county.  This mound is several hundred feet in circumference with a height of forty-five or fifty feet and is located in a level field and shows quite prominently. Some years ago the mound was dug into and one of the investigators gives the following as a description of what they found. “We found top soil all the way for thirty feet, when we came to a cave of curious construction; it was the shape of a bake oven, and high enough for a man to stand upright in the center. It tapered down on all sides. On one side there was a door, that evidently led from a ground entrance into the cave. In the middle of the cave was a pile of dirt and stone resembling an alter; on these were bones, charcoal and some pieces of decayed wood, and one piece of partly charred wood in a good state of preservation. This wood was preserved, but the bones would not stand moving. After the party had satisfied their curiosity, they cut their names and the date on the alter, filled up the excavation and left.”

The Enon Mound is one of the few burial mounds that is mowed in Ohio, due to the Ohio Historical Society not maintaining it.  Located near, Dayton, the area is rich in prehistoric remains.

Coshocton County, Ohio

Ohio Archaeology and Historical Society Publications, 1896
    About two miles below Coshocton stand two mounds. Both are on the Porteus estate, the one twenty-three feet high and 120 feet base, the other, four and one-half feet high and fifty feet base. Mr. Joseph Porteus and his brother kindly gave consent for the examination of the interesting tumuli. It was composed entirely of earth and unstratified. There were few pieces of charcoal noticed and no burnt earth. No difference in color was observed even on the bottom, and there were no soft places, the entire mass being hard packed. While work progressed a boy found a most beautifully chipped six-inch spearhead by the base of the mound. To our chagrin one or two small bones, a ceremonial of galena, a few pottery fragments and flint chips were found. No burials were discovered, although tunnels were run in for several yards on the base line in various directions.

                      Half of this large burial mound was removed when this road was constructed.  

 Fairfield County, Ohio

History of Fairfield and Perry Counties, 1883
        On the farm of Jacob Crawford, four miles east of Lancaster, and in the north end of Berne township, upon the summit of a considerable elevation, are found some highly interesting specimens of stone work. The area of the summit is several acres, and level, with a full growth of forest trees. Some of the margins of the hill, especially at the southwest corner, are precipitous, and faced with out-cropping sandstone. Some of the points are exceedingly rugged and romantic. Near the center of the summit is a stone structure that seems to have been artificially laid together, and bearing the appearance of great antiquity. The material had manifestly been brought from below, as there is no cropping out on the summit. Taken as a whole, one can easily imagine an alter, or restrum. At other points of the surface, otherwise smooth, and covered with grass sod, quite a number of undressed stones are set in the ground perpendicularly.

One of several large burial mounds in this part of Ohio.  It is visible in the winter months when 
vegetation is not present.

Franklin County, Ohio
History of the City of Columbus, 1892
     It is on the Shrum Farm, and quite near the Dublin Pike. Although much overgrown with brush and trees, it is in a fair state of preservation, and has never been explored. The location is such as to justify the assumption that it could well have been used as a signal station.
The Shrum mound is one of the few remaining burial mounds in the City of Columbus that was once rich in burial mounds and earthworks.

History of the City of Columbus, 1892

"This work occurs on the banks of the Olentangy Creek; a tributary of the Scioto River, about one mile west of the town of Worthington, Franklin County, Ohio. The plateau upon the edge of which it is situated, is elevated about fifty feet above the bottoms of the Olentangy, and consists of a clayey soil resting upon the black shale formation of Ohio. The work is rectangular in form; its sides correspond very neatly with the cardinal points (varying but five degrees) and measure six hundred and thirty and five hundred feet respectively. The walls are accompanied by a ditch, and are very slight, though distinctly traceable. In the line of the southern wall is a large truncated mound, twenty feet in height and measuring one hundred and ninety-two feet in diameter at the base, and seventy-six feet in diameter at the summit. It is covered with large trees. The wall that leads from this mound to the left is placed a little further outwards than that leading to the right. The mound in the center of the enclosure is small and low. Near the southwestern corner of the work is a small circle with an interior ditch and single entrance; it is one hundred and twenty feet in diameter. Some distance to the northwest of the enclosure, and on the opposite side of a deep ravine, is another small circle, one hundred and forty feet in diameter, with three entrances.
The Worthington mound is still visible within a housing edition within the city.  Only slight traces of the earthwork are visible near the mound.

Greene County, Ohio

   The largest ancient fortification of Greene County is at Cedarville cliffs. Squire and Davis, the pioneers of American archaeology, in their famous publication, “Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley”

(1848), being the first work issued by the Smithsonian Institution, give a description of this work which is herewith reproduced.

I quote from their original description:

History of Greene County Ohio, 1918

   "It is situated at Massie creek, a tributary of the Little Miami river, seven miles east from the town of Xenia, Greene county, and consist of a high promontory, bounded on all sides, excepting an interval at the west, by a precipitous limestone cliff. Across the isthmus, from which the ground gradually subsides toward the plan almost as regularly as an artificial glacis, is carried a wall of earth and stones.  This wall is now about ten feet high by thirty feet base, and is continued for some distance along the edge of the cliff where it is least precipitous on the north. It is interrupted by three narrow gateways, exterior to each of which was formerly a mound of stones, now mostly carried away. Still exterior to these are four short crescent walls, extending across the isthmus. These crescents are very slight, not much exceeding at the present time three feet in height. The cliff has an average height of upward of twenty-five feet, and is steep and almost inaccessible. The valley is three hundred feet broad. Massies creek, a considerable stream, washes the base of the promontory on the north. The area bounded by the cliff and embankment is not far from twelve acres. The whole is covered with the primitive forest.

"The natural strength of this position is great, and no inconsiderable degree of skill has been expended in perfecting its defenses. A palisade, if carried around the brow of the cliff and along the summit of the wall, would render it impregnable to savage assault. About one hundred rods above this work, on the opposite side of the creek, is a small circle, two hundred feet in diameter, enclosing a mound. About the same distance below, upon the same bank, is a large conical mound, thirty feet in height and one hundred and forty feet in diameter at the base."

The large burial mound and earthworks are still visible, but left overgrown in the summer months. The earthwork has been damaged by university archaeologists.  Earthworks, burial mounds along Massies Creek that includes Ohio's most magnificent waterfall makes this a great place to hike and explore.

Hocking County, Ohio

Smithsonian Institutes Bureau of Ethnology 12th Annual Report
      These two works, consisting of two small earthen enclosures and ditches, one surrounding a large mound which covers the greater part of the included area, are situated on the SW 1/4 of Sec. 8, T.11, R.19, in Salt Creek township, Hocking county. They stand on the level top of a spur, which juts out from the hills bordering the valley of Salt creek. The larger work, which includes the mound, stands on the brink of the bluff, which rises here to a height of 200 feet above the valley. Fig. 308 is a plat of the works and the ground in the immediate vicinity. A plan of the larger work, which, as before stated, consist of an earthen enclosure, inner ditch, and included mound, is shown in Fig. 309. It will be seen from this that the form of both the enclosure and the mound (a) is somewhat quadrilateral or oblong, the longer diameter being east and west. The mound, which covers the entire area, save a narrow strip here and there, is 115 feet long and 96 wide at the base, with a height of 23 feet. At the eastern end and at the corners (which are rounded off) are strips of the original level 2 or 3 feet wide between the margin and the ditch. The top is rounded. The surrounding wall and ditch are interrupted only by the gateway at the east, which is about 30 feet wide. The ditch is 3 feet deep and varies in width from 20 to 23 feet. The wall averages 20 feet in breadth and is from 1 foot to 3 feet high.

This photo is looking over the embankment of the small henge, towards the burial mound that is surrounded by a deep ditch.  The diagram produced by the Ohio Historical Society is incorrect in that there are four gateways at the cardinal points.  It is one of Ohio's most fantastic burial mound and earthworks sites in Ohio. The burial mound has been heavily damaged on the north side by the Ohio Historical Society.

Licking County, Ohio
History of Licking County, Ohio 1881
      One is on the farm formerly owned by Robert Fulton, one mile west of Homer. There were three mounds here, but one was plowed away and leveled in the preparation of the ground upon which to build the house, so that two only remain upon this place. Under the center of one of these was discovered, some years since, a circular building of stone, about ten feet in diameter and three feet in height, regularly built, dome shaped, and having on the top as keystone a large stone.The largest and most entire is at the village of Homer. Perhaps fifty years ago, a party of five or six settlers agreed to examine this mound in search of curiosities. They dug down about fifteen feet, but found nothing of value. In 1824 near an old fort, the outlines of which are still visible, on the bank of the creek adjoining the Homer cemetery, a very large human skeleton was found. It is stated that the jawbone would go over the face of the largest man present, with two hands placed between.

This large burial mound in Licking County is similar to some of the mounds in Athens county, Ohio that also contained stone tombs with "keystones" and large skeletons.  

Another large burial mound in Licking County, that is maintained by the adjoining church. This area of Licking county is rich in prehistoric remains.

Meigs County, Ohio

Pioneer History of Meigs County, Ohio, 1908

    Tumuli or mounds were seen in various localities, always bearing evidence of man's work in their construction; always conical in shape and usually situated on the top of hills, as favorable to watch tower use. The curiosity of many settlers, ignorant and otherwise, despoiled these peculiar mounds by digging them down to find what might be entombed within. Human skeletons, pottery, mica and stone axes, copper rings, were exhumed in most places. There were in Lebanon Township several mounds; one on the Bicknell farm had a well-defined fortification in the shape of a horseshoe surrounding the mound at a regular distance from the base. This mound was never opened, but, being in a field of level land, was plowed over, and very much of the hill shape was leveled. A larger mound on the James Hall farm was opened, and human bones, trinkets of copper, mica and curious stone arrows, pipes and stone axes were disclosed. It was twelve feet high, and the bones of a very large man were found there.
A very large burial mound near the Ohio River in Meigs County Ohio.  The mound is most visible in the winter months.  A large skeleton was found in this mound, that is the general rule of mounds of this size.

History of the City of Dayton and Montgomery County, 1909

Montgomery County, Ohio
       The greatest interest is excited by the great mound a mile southeast of Miamisburg. The dimensions of the mound are given as sixty-eight feet in perpendicular height and eight hundred and fifty-two feet in circumference and include from one million, three hundred thousand to one million, five hundred thousand cubic feet of earth. It has been partially explored but without discovering much of archaeological interest. It is the highest mound in Ohio, and the highest but one in the Ohio valley. There has been much talk of the state's acquiring the mound but no decisive action has been taken.

Ohio's largest burial mound at Miamisburg, Ohio.  It is one of the few sites in Ohio that can be visited in the summer months.  However, it is still better viewed in the winter.

Pickaway County, Ohio
History of Franklin and Pickaway Counties, Ohio, 1896

     Upon the land owned by Washington McClean ans situated upon Darby creek, is another large mound, and not far away the washings of the creek has disclosed large quantities of human bones, buried at a depth of only two or three feet. It is conjectured, from the manner of the burial, that the beings whose bones were laid here perished in battle and were hastily interred.

    This large burial mound is about a half mile distant from the road. and would be more visible in the winter if it were covered in snow.

A unique burial mound in that it situated on the down slope of this slight elevation.  This may have been from erosion over the last 1000 years.  
This massive burial mound is one of Ohio's largest in one of the richest areas of existing prehistoric remains.  No sign, historical marker exist for this site and more evidence of what a pathetic job the Ohio Historical Society has done in maintaining these antiquities.

Another large mound near the last.  It is worth noting that all of these mounds are near the Tarleton Cross.  

PIke County, Ohio
Two very large burial mounds are located north of Fort Hill.  One of the mounds now serves as a source f or fill dirt. There are no historical markers for these mounds.  

Ross County, Ohio
Many large burial mounds once existed in Ross county along with the many earthworks. This large mound was scheduled to be destroyed by the Ohio Historical Society, but a cave in nearly killed one of the archaeologists and the destruction of this National Treasure was stopped.

The Washington Post, December 4, 1898

Dug Up a Skeleton Eight Feet Long
     A remarkable prehistoric skeleton was unearthed the other day by Mr. R. A. Tomlinson on the bank of Owl Creek, a little stream near Londonderry, Ohio. Mr. Tomlinson was engaged digging into a gravel bed, and had penetrated about four feet below the surface when he discovered the bones.
The skeleton, which was excellently preserved, was lying at full length on the left side, with its left hand under it. When lifted up the hand was found to hold a dozen darts of the finest workmanship. But it was the size of the skeleton, which amazed those who saw it. When measured it was found to be only about an inch short of eight feet in length, and there can be no doubt that in life the man was fully eight feet in height and probably an inch more than that.
The bones were massive, showing that the man was a giant in strength as well as stature. The skull was a third larger than the human skull, and the lower jaw was abnormal in size and thickness. Hundreds of people have viewed the skeleton, and it will doubtless be preserved as a curiosity.

After years of excavations by the Ohio Historical Society this once great pyramidal mound that contained the remains of a human giant is now much reduced.

Large conical burial mound is located on the road to Fort Hill and near the Seip mound and earthwork complex.  It is a mystery why this mound is not maintained?

Warren County, Ohio
History of Warren County Ohio, 1882

      Franklin Township is not without its prehistoric remains. The chief object of this kind is a mound on the old Burrows about twenty-five feet in height, and perhaps 100 feet in circumference, and being, as these mounds are usually are, on high ground, is visible for miles, while from its summit the beautiful Miami Valley can be seen spread out like a panorama.

Many years ago, a number of men, then young, determined to explore this mound. Mr. Burrows objecting because he believed it to be a place of sepu, they took occasion to visit the scene during the hours of night. Among the number were John M. Catrow, W. F. Smith, Isaiha Blair and A. D. Reeder, with others whose names are unknown. With picks and shovels they reached the mound, and commencing in the center of the top, they excavated rapidly, taking their turns. When they had descended several feet, Mr. Blair took his turn, and after a few strokes, came climbing out in terror, declaring that “it sounded hollow, and he was not going to risk its letting him fall into an unknown cavity.” This only made the others more anxious, and they worked very zealously for some time, but they found nothing but a few copper beads, and they shoveled the dirt back again.

A 2000 year old burial mound is not worthy of protection, nor the being maintained. Another sad historical site in Ohio.

Washington County, Ohio

History of Marietta and Washington County, Ohio 189

       The large mound now enclosed in the cemetery, the most interesting feature of the Marietta group of works, remains to be described. It is not larger than some of the others in Ohio, but is probably higher in proportion to its base measurement, and is unique in its accessories of embankment and fosse. It is 30 feet in height and its base is 115 feet in diameter. It is surrounded by a ditch about 15 feet wide and four feet deep, outside of which is a wall about four feet high, and twenty feet or more in breadth. There is an opening in this wall upon the north side and a filling in the fosse, each about 20 feet in width. The surrounding wall and ditch do not form a perfect circle, but an ellipse, the longer diameter of which is 230 feet, and the shorter 215 feet. Originally there were a number of fragmentary walls of slight elevation west and south of the great mound forming an imperfect re-enclosure. There was also a wall extending from a point near the filling of the fosse toward the south embankment of a smaller enclosure.

Large burial mound surrounded by a ditch is one of the few mounds of this type that can still be seen in Ohio.