Adena Henge Group in Athens County, Ohio

Adena Henge Group in Athens County, Ohio


      Four miles north of the town of Athens, Athens county, Ohio, is a broad and level Plain, Upon which is situated a large group of ancient earthworks.
       "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 acres. The soil is a sandy argillaceous earth, easily tilled and quite fertile. At the northern extremity of the plain is the village of Chauncey, where are located several salt factories, which are supplied by some of the most abundant saline waters in the State of Ohio. The plain has an elevation of sixty or seventy feet above the present bed of the Hocking river, and was evidently formed when its waters flowed at a higher level. This stream now runs from half a mile to a mile to the eastward of the plain, separated from it by low hills. All 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 principal ancient works. Most of these works occupy the south-eastern 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. This 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 six feet. In all of these circles, the ditch is interior to the embankment.
        "On the top of a hill, half a mile to the south of this plain, is a stone mound fifteen feet in height. It is built of stones of various sizes, none of which, however, are larger than one man could conveniently carry. They must have been collected from considerable distances, as there are very few lying upon the surface of the adjacent hills. Many of them are water-worn, and evidently came from the bed of some stream: some are limestone, some sandstone, and others quartz. About twenty years since a partial excavation was made, and the mound penetrated to about half its depth. Here were found three human skeletons, in tolerable preservation. From the appearance of ashes and charcoal beneath them, it was conjectured that the bodies had been burned. One of the skeletons had copper bracelets on its arms, and beads made of the tusks of the bear about its neck. These relics are now deposited in the Museum of the Ohio University, at Athens."
       It has been suggested, that the work situated upon the detached portion of the plain above mentioned was designed for defence. There is nothing to favor the suggestion, except the fact of position, which is far from conclusive. On the other hand, the small size of the work, its form, and the occurrence of the ditch interior to the wall, may be taken to establish a different origin,—probably a religious one.