PLATE VIII. No. 1.
[ From the Surveys and Notes of JAMES MCBRIDE. ]
|Lidar image showing the features of this fortified hilltop.|
THIS work occurs on the bank of the Great Miami river, four miles above the
town of Hamilton, in Butler county, Ohio, and is one of the most interesting hill-works
known. It corresponds in all essential particulars with those of the
same class already described. It occupies the summit of a promontory cut from
the table lands bordering the Miami river, which upon three sides presents high
and steep natural banks, rendered more secure for purposes of defence by artificial
embankments thrown up along their brows. The remaining side is defended by a
wall and ditch, and it is from this side only that the work is easy of approach.
The walls are low, measuring at this time but about four feet in height. The
area enclosed is level, subsiding somewhat towards the north, so as to form a sort
of natural terrace along the river. Previous to the construction of the Miami canal,
this terrace was eight or ten rods wide, having a perpendicular bank next the
river, some fifty or more feet high. Upon this terrace are situated several small
mounds. The point indicated by c
in the plan is the most elevated within the
enclosure. The ground here was intermixed with large stones, most of which
were removed in building the canal. Among them, it is said, were found several
human skeletons, and also a variety of carved stone implements.
The most interesting feature in connection with this work is the entrance on
the south, of which the enlarged plan can alone afford a fair conception. The ends
of the wall curve inwardly as they approach each other, upon a radius of seventy-five
feet, forming a true circle, interrupted only by the gateways. Within the space
thus formed, is a small circle one hundred feet in diameter; outside of which and
covering the gateway is a mound, e, forty feet in diameter and five feet high.
The passage between the mound and the embankment, and between the walls of
the circles, is now about six feet wide. The gateway or opening d is twenty feet
wide. This singular entrance, it will be remarked, strongly resembles the gateways
belonging. to a work already described (Plate VI.), although much more
regular in its construction.
The ditches, f f, which accompany the wall on the south, subside into the
ravines upon either side. These ravines are not far from sixty feet deep, and have
precipitous sides, rendering ascent almost impossible. The mound h is three feet
The area of the work is seventeen acres; the whole of which is yet covered with
a dense primitive forest. The valley beyond the river is broad, and in it are many
traces of a remote population, of which this work was probably the fortress or
place of last resort, during turbulent periods.
PLATE VIII. No. 2.
THIS work is situated six miles south-west of the town of Hamilton, in Butler
county, Ohio. It has no very remarkable features, although possessing the general
characteristics of this class of works. It consists of a simple embankment of earth
carried around the brow of a high, detached hill, overlooking a wide and beautiful
section of the Miami valley. The side of the hill on the north, towards the river,
is very abrupt, and rises to the height of one hundred and twenty feet above the
valley. The remaining sides are steep, though comparatively easy of ascent.
The walls are scarcely four feet high, and seem to have been much reduced by
time. There are six gateways, two of which open upon natural bastions or lookouts,
and the remaining four towards copious springs, as shown in the plan. The
ground within the walls rises gradually to the centre, from which an extended view
of the valley and surrounding country may be obtained, There are two mounds
of earth placed near together on the highest point within the enclosure, measuring respectively ten feet in height.
South-east of the work, and nine hundred feet distant, is an eminence A, about
fifty feet higher than the one occupied by the above mentioned work,—being much
the highest point in the neighborhood. The area on the top is, however, inconsiderable.
There are some traces of ancient occupation here, though they are far
from being distinct or considerable.
PLATE VIII. No. 3.
THE enclosure here represented is situated on the left bank of the Great Miami
river, two and a half miles above the town of Piqua, Miami county, Ohio, upon
the farm of Col. John Johnston, a prominent actor in the early history of Ohio.
It occupies the third terrace, which here forms a bluff peninsula, bounded on three
sides by streams. The banks of the terrace vary from fifty to seventy-live feet
in height. The embankment is carried along the boundaries of the peninsula,
enclosing an oval-shaped area of about eighteen acres. It is composed of earth
intermixed with large quantities of stone, and is unaccompanied by a ditch. The
stones that enter into the composition of the rampart are water-worn, and must
have been brought from the bed of the river; which, according to Dr. Drake, for
two miles opposite this work, does not at present afford a stone of ten pounds
weight. A mound, five feet high and surrounded by a ditch, occurs within the work.
There is also another, exterior to the walls, upon the second terrace, towards
the river. This is classed as a defensive work, for very obvious reasons17
Below this entrenchment, and on the present site of the town of Piqua, a group
of works formerly existed, consisting of circles, ellipses, etc. These have been
described at length, by Major Long.18 There are also various small works on the
opposite bank of the Miami. Indeed, the whole valley is here covered with traces
of a former dense population.
PLATE VIII. No. 419
[Most of the site has been destroyed, but small remnants of the northern wall remain.]
This work resembles one already described, No. 2 of this Plate. It is situated
on the bank of the Great Miami river, three miles below Dayton, Montgomery
county, Ohio. The side of the hill towards the river is very steep, rising to the
height of one hundred and sixty feet. The remaining sides are less abrupt. Upon
the south is the principal gateway, and here the declivity is gentle. This gateway
is covered upon the interior by a ditch, c c
, twenty feet wide, and seven hundred feet
long. At d d d
are dug holes, from which it is apparent a portion of the earth
composing the embankments was taken. At b
is a natural depression forty feet deep,
and covering not far from one and a half acres. At the northern slope of the narrow
ridge which intersects the work, and within the line of the embankment of which
it forms a part, is a small mound. From its top a full view of the surrounding
country, for a long distance up and down the river, may be obtained. A terrace,
apparently artificial, skirts the north-west side of the hill, thirty feet below the
embankment. As remarked in a former instance, this terrace may be natural; it
has, however, all the regularity of a work of art.
Dr. Drake, in the chapter on antiquities, in his "View of Cincinnati," has the following notice of
"The adjacent hill, at the distance of half a mile, and at the greater elevation of about one hundred
feet, is the site of a stone wall, mainly circular, and enclosing perhaps twenty acres. The valley of the
river on one side, and a deep ravine on the other, render access to three-fourths of this fortification
extremely difficult. The wall is carried generally along the brow of the hill, in one place descending a.
short distance, so as to include a spring. The silicious limestone of which it was built, must have been
transported from the bed of the river, which, for two miles opposite these works, does not at present
afford one of ten pounds weight. They exhibit no marks of the hammer or any other tool. The wall
was laid up without mortar, and is now in ruins."
Long's Second Expedition, vol. i. pp. 54-66.
Surveyed by James McBride, Esq. and Samuel Forrer, Esq. of the Ohio Board of Public Works.
Copyright © 2009 Calvin & Rosanna Hamilton. All rights reserved.