High Bank Earthworks
The High Bank Earthworks consist of a large circular embankment connected to an octagonal enclosure located along the Scioto River southeast of Chillicothe, Ohio. The circle is 1,050 feet in diameter and encloses 20 acres. The octagon is 950 feet across and encloses 18 acres. The walls of the octagon originally were 11 to 12 feet in height. The earthworks have been plowed nearly flat, but some traces remain and the outlines can be traced from above. The surviving remnants are one component of the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park.
High Bank Earthworks and the Octagon Earthworks in Newark, Ohio appear to be related in important ways. They are the only two circle-and-octagon combinations built by the so-called Hopewell culture (100 B.C. to 500 A.D.) of pre-contact North American Indian people. The circular earthwork at High Bank is the same size as the circular enclosure linked to the octagon at Newark. Ray Hively and Robert Horn, of Earlham College, believe that both of these earthworks served as astronomical observatories. Both earthworks incorporate alignments to the rising and setting of the moon through its 18.6-year cycle. The High Bank Earthworks also include alignments to the summer and winter solstice sunrises and sunsets.
Ohio History Connection Curator of Archaeology Brad Lepper proposes that ancient Newark and Chillicothe were linked by a "Great Hopewell Road," which he believes was a set of straight parallel walls that extended for nearly 60 miles from Newark's Octagon to the center of the many earthworks built along the Scioto River near Chillicothe.
The High Bank Earthworks are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The site is occasionally confused with a Late Woodland location called Highbanks Park Earthworks in Delaware County, Ohio.
Learn more about our effort to inscript several Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks sites (in Ross County, Licking County, and Warren County) to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
- Byers, A. Martin. The Ohio Hopewell Episode: Paradigm Lost and Paradigm Gained. Akron, OH: University of Akron Press, 2004.
- Carr, Christopher, and D. Troy Case, eds. Gathering Hopewell: Society, Ritual, and Ritual Interaction. New York, NY: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, 2005.
- Hively, Ray and Robert Horn. "Hopewellian Geometry and Astronomy at High Bank," Archaeoastronomy, Volume 7, S85-S100. Supplement to Journal for the History of Astronomy, Vol. 15, 1984.
- CERHAS. EarthWorks, Virtual Explorations of the Ancient Ohio Valley. The Center for the Electronic Reconstruction of Historical and Archaeological Sites (CERHAS). Cincinnati, OH, 2006.
- Pangea Productions. Searching for the Great Hopewell Road. N.p.: Pangea Productions, 1998.
- Case, D. Troy and Christopher Carr, eds. The Scioto Hopewell and their Neighbors: Bioarchaeological Documentation and Cultural Understanding. New York, NY: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, 2008.
- Lepper, Bradley T. Ohio Archaeology: An Illustrated Chronicle of Ohio's Ancient American Indian Cultures. Wilmington, Ohio, Orange Frazer Press, 2005.
- Warriner, Gray, producer. Legacy of the Mound Builders. Seattle, WA: Camera One for the National Park Service and the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, 1994.
- Woodward, Susan L., and Jerry N. McDonald. Indian Mounds of the Middle Ohio Valley: A Guide to Mounds and Earthworks of the Adena, Hopewell, Cole, and Fort Ancient People. Lincoln: The University of Nebraska Press, 2002.