Located directly across from Mound City, the Hopeton Earthworks are more than meets the eye. After suffering decades of erosion from modern agricultural practices, scientific archaeology and something called interpretive mowing have helped reconstruct this sacred site.
990 Hopetown Road
Chillicothe, OH 45601
- Park grounds: Open dawn until dusk
What you'll see
The Hopeton are dominated by two massive shapes: An irregular square with rounded corners and an overlapping circle. Remarkably, these two shapes have nearly the exact same area of 20 acres. That’s just over 15 football fields each! Even though the site has experienced significant degradation over the years, LiDAR technology—a remote sensing method that uses light to measure ranges—has provided the topographic details of these works. Together, LiDAR, magnetic surveys, and historic maps highlight two smaller, ancillary circular earthworks and two parallel embankment walls that align to the winter solstice sunset.
Archaeology & Artifacts
Nearly 50,000 artifacts have been identified near the Hopeton Earthworks, with very few inside the actual enclosures themselves. Unlike some of the other Hopewell earthworks, Hopeton was not a burial site—though it was likely used for ceremonial purposes. These artifacts are mainly related to construction, cooking, and other domestic tasks, providing a glimpse into the Hopewell way of life. Recently, magnetic survey methods have detected underground wooden structures beneath the circle, dubbed “woodhenge.” With so much intact underground, Hopeton Earthworks is rich with information yet to be learned about this fantastic culture.
The Hopeton Earthworks feature alignments to the summer and winter solstices within one degree. In addition, certain measurements within these huge shapes match exactly those in other Hopewell earthworks across Ohio—a stunning feat of accuracy considering their size and geographic distribution. This fact further solidifies that these structures were built with great intention and purpose.
Must See at Hopeton Earthworks
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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.