Large Skeleton Described at the Roberts Mound, in Perry County, Ohio

Large Skeleton Described at the Roberts Mound, in Perry County, Ohio

The Roberts Mound as it looks today.  It is located a few miles south of Newark, Ohio. The conical shape has been altered from the archaeoogical dig, documented below.

Ohio Archaeological and Historical Society, Vol. VII, 1900
    The Roberts mound is one of the largest tumuli east of the Scioto. It is shown in Figure VIII. Standing upon a very high hill, it is indeed a beautiful as well as an imposing monument of the past. It is in a famous neighborhood. Flint Ridge is within sight (upon a clear day) and the stone fortification at Glenford—the largest of its kind in the state—can also be seen. This mound lies in the northwestern part of Hopewell township in Perry county.‘ The Glenford fortification is only two miles distant. The large earthwork upon Mr. Yost’s farm and described in the report of last year  is but five miles away. 

Orignal photo of the Roberts Mound taken by the Ohio Histroical Society, prior to it being excavated. 

The structure is one hundred and twenty feet in diameter and twenty-seven feet high. Not a tree nor a bush is upon it. Sixty years ago very large trees grew upon it and a white oak in particular was noted for its size and height. “Our trench started from the west side and ran in until the bank in front was thirteen feet in height. In making the cut we came upon a large number of very large, flat stones weighing from ten to seventy pounds. (These, as well as the tunnel, are shown in Figure IX.) They ran from two to ten feet deep. They were only near the edges and extended up the mound for about ten feet. I suppose that they were used to keep the structure from washing down. It being built upon a high hill would be subjected to more or less wash.” This point is well taken and true. At Fort Ancient the same precaution is observed and in some parts of the structure a rude wall of the flat limestone slabs has been carried around the edges of the embankments. “Near the base of the mound the earth was thicker over these stones, showing that the soil above had washed down in quantities. We struck an immense quantity of ashes and burnt clay and charcoal, etc., on the base line. The mound is made up of many colors of soil and is soft and dark. 

The youn man is standing next to the tunnel made by archeologist to loot any grave goods and skeletal remains from the burial mound.

The colors are not so bright as those noted in the Chillicothe group. “After starting the tunnel and observing how soft and wet the mound was, my hopes fell as to making a big find, for if there was any perishable material in the mound it would certainly be gone by this time. The drift was a few inches below the base line, four feet high and three and one-half feet wide. “When in eight feet (or thirty-eight feet from edge of mound) we came upon a small hole in the base line filled with ashes, charcoal and burnt bones of the deer, etc., also mussell shells, snail shells and the like. I presume they had a feast there. The bottom of the mound was now found not to be perfectly flat, but wavy or irregular. Some fragments of flint and a flint knife were found. The base line was two or three inches thick some distance beyond the burnt bones. Thirty feet from the tunnel mouth much decayed wood was uncovered. As we drew near the center the ground became sticky and wet and both hard and dangerous to work. It made shoveling slow. “Near the center of the mound and forty feet from the mouth of the tunnel we found a skeleton, badly decayed. It was partially cremated. All the relics with it were burned except some bone beads found around the neck. We found a fragment of burned coffin-shaped ceremonial (Figure X, No. 6). We could find traces of many relics which had been burned up. The skeleton was large, headed north, and extended. The mound was now dangerous and our lights were kept lit with difiiculty. So we concluded to quit. '

“Directly southeast of the large mound is a small one which was originally eight or nine feet high, but it had partly been dug away to make brick for a school-house. The workmen found eight skeletons during this digging and they all lay with feet towards the center, so I was informed by persons who saw them. Nearly half of it had been removed.