Great Circle Earthworks
The Great Circle at Newark is one of the largest geometric enclosures built by the Hopewell culture. It is nearly 1,200 feet in diameter and enclose nearly 30 acres —that’s almost 23 football fields! But its size is only one of the things that makes this earthwork so impressive. The more you learn about the Great Circle, the more you understand how it got its name.
455 Hebron Road
Heath, Ohio 43056
- Park grounds: Open dawn until dusk
- Visitor center: Please call for hours
- Museum Open: Thursday – Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
What you'll see
The Great Circle Earthworks was a place of gathering and ceremony. A monumental gateway nearly 200 feet wide leads to the interior of the circle. The walls of Great Circle are between 8 and 13 feet high. They surround a ditch between 8 and 13 feet deep that once was filled with water. The interior of the Great Circle is so huge, the Great Pyramid of Giza (another UNESCO World Heritage Site) could fit inside of it!
At the center of the Great Circle is a large mound known as Eagle Mound for its symmetrical, somewhat winged shape. In the park to the north and east of the Great Circle there are two restored segments of the low perimeter walls that once encircled the entire Newark Earthworks complex. Learn more about this earthwork in the Ohio History Connection’s visitorʻs center located outside the Great Circle’s gateway.
Archaeology & Artifacts
There have been very few archaeological investigations at the Great Circle. As a result, only a handful of Hopewell-era artifacts have been found here. Two copper ornaments, one shaped like a beaver and the other a crescent, were found on the floor of a timber building that was taken down and buried beneath Eagle Mound. These artifacts likely were worn by Hopewell ceremonial leaders. They help to show how far people came to participate in the ceremonies at the Hopewell earthworks. The copper to make those ornaments came from either southern Ontario or North Carolina. Hopewell artifacts found at other earthworks include ornaments made from rare raw materials gathered from across the country— such as seashells from the Gulf of Mexico, mica from North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, and fossilized shark teeth from the Chesapeake Bay.
The few archaeological investigations that have been done in and near the Great Circle have added to our knowledge of the Hopewell culture, but only a small portion of the site has been explored. Given its excellent state of preservation, the Great Circle Earthworks has much more to tell us about what was going on at this amazing place 2,000 years ago.
The Great Circle does not have the precise alignments to the moon and sun that are found at other Hopewell earthworks. But a line drawn between the center points of the Great Circle and the Octagon Earthworks’ Observatory Circle point to where the moon rises at its southernmost point on the eastern horizon. When combined with the many precise alignments to the key moonrises and moonsets at the Octagon Earthworks, we can see that these ancient American Indians were diligent and patient sky watchers for many generations. They figured out the complicated rhythms of the sun and moon and aligned their sacred earthworks to those rhythms as a way of connecting their ceremonies with the cosmos.
Must See at Great Circle Earthworks
1 of 6
Witness Ancient Brilliance
The Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, span several locations in Ohio. Each earthwork has its own marvels and wisdom to reveal, and is worthy of witnessing firsthand.