Ancient Earthworks of
Eastern North America|
Liberty Township Earthwork and High Bank Octagon
|| "This work is a fair type of a singular
series occurring in the Scioto valley,-all of which have
the same figures in combination, although occupying different
positions with respect to each other, viz a square and
two circles. These figures are not only accurate squares and
perfect circles, but are in most cases of corresponding
dimensions,- that is to say, the sides of each of the squares
are each ten hundred and eighty feet in length; and the diameter
of each of the large and small circles, a fraction over seventeen
hundred and eight hundred feet respectively... It will
be observed, that while the wall of the larger circle is interrupted
by numerous narrow gateways, that of the smaller one is
entire throughout,-a feature for which it is, of course, impossible
to assign a reason, ... The whole work appears to have
been partly finished, or constructed in great haste ... No
one would be apt to ascribe a defensive origin to this work,
yet it is diffcult to conceive for what other purpose a
structure of such dimensions, embracing nearly one hundred
acres, could have been designed," - Squier and Davis,
"It is not to be supposed that these
numerous coincidences are the result of accident." - Squier
and Davis, 71.
Ancient Monuments Placemarks - Liberty
Works and High Bank kmz files with map overlays.
Mills writes of Squier and Davis, continuing after citing also the
quotes above, "In another place, after describing the many striking
resemblances in area and other properties to be observed in the works
at Newark, Hopetown, High Bank, and Marietta, they say
It can not be too often or too strongly impressed on the reader
that these "coincidences," so often given and referred
in their text, have no existence in the works themselves, The
larger circle of this group is plowed level, and no measurements
could be obtained, The square is nearly obliterated, making
any estimate of its angles or dimensions unsafe; but it
appears to vary considerably from "accuracy."
circle, however, is all in woodland or pasture, and could be surveyed
without difficulty. Under the impression that this was
the hypothetical figure given by Squire and Davis (see page 56)
as absolute proof of the uniformity of curve, especial care was
taken in its measurements.
"The diameter, it is true, is given in their plate as 800 feet,
while the supposed "perfect circle" had, according to
a circumference of 3,600 feet; or, as it was platted, circumscribed
a dodecagon of 3,600 feet perimeter. It was evident from this
that an error existed somewhere, which we hoped to locate...."
Portion of Squier and Davis 1847 drawing of
Earthwork, with orientation corrected.
"Stakes were set 100 feet apart
along the middle line of the embankment, beginning at the south
side of the gateway. The bearing of each stake was then taken
from the one next preceding. Had the curve been regular, as claimed
by the authors, each angle of divergence, to the last one, would
have been the same. Instead of that, they read as follows: 21°35';
3°09'; ..... twenty-two full chains, making
2200 feet. The last ... was thirty feet, making the angle of
divergence much smaller than it would have been with a full chord,
The wall terminated abruptly at station 1; as this portion is
in land on which the original timber is standing, there can be
no presumption that it ever extended farther, although in the
original survey it is represented as reaching in an unbroken
line to the gateway or opening and thence to the larger circle;
as shown by the dotted lines in figure 26. From station 1 to
station 24 the distance is 343 feet, making the entire circuit,
by this system of short chords, 2,543 feet. Measured exactly
on the circle, with allowance for curvature, this figure would
have been slightly larger, It is only thirty feet in excess of
the circumference of a true circle with a diameter of 800 feet;
which goes to show that Squier and Davis merely ran a line around
the embankment, called the work a "perfect
circle," and made the diameter 800 feet for even figures.
|Image right. Location of Harnass
Mound and Liberty Earthwork is not readily discernable in the
agricutural fields and yards covering the area today. Railroad
tracks were laid through the square and circle, near parallel
to the road.
High Bank Octagon and Circle
Right. High Bank Octagon and Circle,
part of the drawing by Squier and Davis.
"The circular enclosure is
almost geometrical in its accuracy; a radius of 526 feet will
describe a circle which will nowhere miss the middle line of
the embankment more than six feet. "
Regarding the Octagon Thomas writes, "...this inclosure is
comparatively regular, the oposite angles, with one exception,
differing less than half a degree ... the regularity is not
such as would be expected from the use of instruments."
Topographic map, Squier and Davis
drawing, and a chart of GPS readings are overlain to present
the location of High Bank Earthworks. The Octagon image was
positioned using a still-visible corner. The adjoined octagon
and circle were rotated to match the azimuth survey data
by Thomas. The extended work of linear embankments and circles,
running south-southwestward from the octagon corner, were further
rotated to fit the terrace better, so their locations are approximate.
This is the entire work as depicted by Squier and Davis, and
while their work is invaluable, their depictions of
scale, relationships, and orientations are not all entirely
precise representations, as Thomas noted in the quotes above.
I used three GPS readings to locate the coordinate
grid on the topography, including an octagon corner, a road
with octagon intersection, and the road with railroad track
intersection. Centerpoint coordinates (below) locating the
octagon and circle were scaled from the grid.
Works East Placemarks
with image overlays:
Thomas writes: " The irregularity at the southern corner is
due to a depression which would interfere with easy approach, The opposite
sides and angles are tolerably regular. One diameter is 1,008 feet,
the other 1,005 feet; the included area is 20.6 acres, It is possible
Squier and Davis measured entirely within the walls; but in the adjoining
circle their figures plainly refer to the top of the embankment.
"The circular enclosure is almost geometrical in its accuracy; a
radius of 526 feet will describe a circle which will nowhere miss the
middle line of the embankment more than six feet."
|High Banks Work
||2147.2 feet long
2004 Field Season at the High Bank Earthwork.
Now-obliterated Works East, known from the drawing by Squier and Davis, was situated
on the opposite side of the Scioto River upstream and north of High Banks and Liberty