Mystery of the Serpent Mound

These Ancient Earthworks in Ohio are Over 1,000 Feet Long

by Shreya Dahal, age 14

The twisting body of a serpent uncoils across a summit, revealing its black skin rising above ground. The name “Serpent Mound” reflects the mound’s physical features. Preserved by the Ohio Historical Society, Serpent Mound lies in Adams County, Ohio. It sits on top of a plateau that sprouts from a 150-foot hill, rising above the Brush Creek River. Tall trees are scattered about, surrounding the mound, as the winding river adds to the beauty of the sight.


It is one of North America’s most dramatic earthworks. The mound is shaped like a serpent, with seven deep coils, a twisted body, and a mouth stretched wide open to swallow what appears to be an egg. The shape is crisply defined, made of earth deposits between an outline of stones, or a mixture of clay and ashes. The mound is 20 feet wide and over 1,000 feet long.

It remains a mystery to this day who built Serpent Mound. Most researchers believe that North American Indians made it. They adored and revered the rattlesnake as if it was a god-sent guardian spirit. William F. Romain, an authority on the mound, argues that the builders were depicting the solar eclipse, with the sun as the oval. In many traditional Iroquois and Cherokee legends, the story of the sun being swallowed by a monster was common.

Each year, thousands of people visit the mound. Those who see the Serpent Mound agree, it is a truly astounding and awe-inspiring sight.

[Sources: The Atlas of Legendary Places; Rand McNally Atlas of North America]

This is a very interesting article- I'd never heard of Serpent Mound before. Thanks Shreya! – AbiHamline University (2011-07-12 16:32)
What an intricately built piece of history! Great article, Shreya. I love the detail and the topic is intriguing. – Brianna WilsonSt. Olaf College (2011-07-12 17:35)