Serpent Mound in Peebles, Ohio and its Ancient Symbolism

Serpent Mound in Peebles, Ohio and its Ancient Symbolism
Historic Photo of the Serpent Mound in Peebles, Ohio

Adams County, Ohio Serpent Mound

      Probably the most extraordinary earthwork thus far discovered at the West is the Great Serpent mound, of which a faithful delineation is given in the accompanying plan. It is situated on Brush creek, at a point known as "Three Forks," on entry near the north line of Adams County, Ohio. No plan or description has hitherto been published of the serpent mound; nor does the fact of its existence appear to have been known beyond the secluded vicinity in which it occurs. The notice first received by the authors of these researchers was exceedingly vague and indefinite, and led to the conclusion that it was a work of defense, with bastions at regular intervals—a feature so extraordinary as to induce a visit, which resulted in the discovery here presented. The true character of the serpent was apparent on the first inspection. It is situated upon a high, crescent-form hill or spur of land, rising one hundred and fifty feet above the level of Brush creek, which washes its base. The side of the hill next the stream presents a perpendicular wall of rock, while the other slopes rapidly, though it is not so steep as to preclude cultivation. The top of the hill is not level but slightly convex, and presents a very even surface, one hundred and fifty feet wide by one thousand long, measuring from its extremity to the point where it connects with the table land. Conforming to the curve of the hill, and occupying its very summit, is the serpent, its head resting near the point, and its body winding back for seven hundred feet, in graceful undulation, terminating in a triple coil at the tail. The entire length, if extended, would be not less than one thousand feet. The accompanying plan, laid down from accurate survey, can alone give an adequate conception of the outline of the work, which is clearly and boldly defined, the embankment being upwards of five feet in height by thirty feet base, at the center of the body, but diminishing somewhat towards the head and tail. The neck of the serpent is stretched out and slightly curved, and its mouth is opened wide as if in the act of swallowing or ejecting an oval figure, which rest partially within the distended jaws. This oval is formed by an embankment of earth, without any perceptible opening, four feet in height, and is perfectly regular in outline, its transverse and conjugate diameters being one hundred and sixty and eighty feet respectively. The ground within the oval is slightly elevated: a small circular elevation of large stones much burned once existed in its center; but they have been thrown down and scattered by some ignorant visitor, under the prevailing impression probably that gold was hidden beneath them. The point of the hill, within which this egg-shaped figure rest, seems to have been artificially cut to conform to its outline, leaving a smooth platform, ten feet wide, and somewhat inclining inwards, all around it. The section A B will illustrate this feature. Upon either side of the serpent's head extend two small triangular elevations, ten or twelve feet over. They are not high, and although too distinct to be overlooked, are yet too much obliterated to be satisfactorily traced. Besides a platform, or level oval terrace, at B, and large mound in the center of the isthmus connecting the hill with the table land beyond, there are no other remains, excepting a few mounds, within six or eight miles—none, perhaps, nearer than the entrenched hill in Highland county, thirteen miles distant. There are a number of works lower down on Brush creek, towards it mouth; but their character is not known. The point on which this effigy occurs commands an extensive prospect, overlooking the "bottoms" found at the junction of the three principal tributaries of the creek. The alluvial terraces are here quite extensive, and it is a matter of surprise that no works occur upon them.
The serpent, separate or in combination with the circle, egg, or globe has been a predominate symbol among many primitive nations.
The serpent depicted swallowing an "egg" or "sun disc" was a prevalent symbol in the ancient world

      The serpent prevailed in Egypt, Greece, and Assyria, and entered widely into the superstitions of the Celts, the Hindu, and the Chinese. It even penetrated into America; and was conspicuous in the mythology of the ancient Mexicans, among whom its significance does not seem to have differed materially from that which it possessed in the old world. The fact that the ancient Celts, and perhaps other nations of the old continent, erected sacred structures in the form of the serpent, are one of high interest. Of this description was the great temple of Avebury, in England—in many respects the most imposing ancient monument of the British Islands.

The Serpent Mound is best viewed from a tower that is accessible at the park. This photo looks west toward the serpent’s head swallowing the egg; that is symbolic of the sun. Many of the Allegewi henges are aligned to solar events, as is the Serpent which is aligned to the summer solstice sunset. William Romain revealed in Mysteries of the Hopewell, Astronomers, Geometers and Magicians of the Eastern Woodlands, 2000; that each of the curves in the snake’s body is aligned to the moon's maximum and minimum sets and rises in it's 18-year cycle. This Serpent is the best example of the Allegewi’s reverence for the number three. The Serpents head is pointed to the three forks of Brush Creek. The Serpent has three bends in its body, and the tail circles three times. Nearby, at the Ft. Hill earthwork, there are thirty-three gateways that interrupt the serpentine walls.

This is one of several mounds near the Serpent that has been determined to be Adena by the artifacts found within the mound.

Adena skeleton uncovered three feet below the surface of the mound. Diggers removed the bones below the knees before the skeleton was uncovered.