Fort Hill

From Ohio History Central
This biface, or hand axe, from Fort Hill is made of Harrison County chert, and dates to the Middle Woodland Period (100 BCE-500 CE).

Located in Brush Creek Township in Highland County, Ohio, Fort Hill is an American Indian earthworks site created during what archaeologists call the Hopewell cultural period. Hopewell is not the name of a particular American Indian tribe, but rather is a term used to describe the distinct, ancient American Indians whose particular way of life developed around 2,000 years ago across the Midwest, with Ohio at its center.

Although its name is misleading, the Fort Hill earthworks was probably not used as a fort, or at least served another function in addition to providing protection. Fort Hill is a stone and earthen walled enclosure built on a flat hilltop, conforming to the contour of the ridge. Archaeologists believe the Hopewell constructed the earthwork to demarcate a ceremonial gathering place and have identified two possible ceremonial features in the area, as well as evidence of a village in the Brush Creek Valley.

The walled enclosure ranged from six to fifteen feet high, and averaged around 30 feet wide at its base, enclosing a total of 35 acres of land and spanning 1.5 miles, and has 33 openings across its length. A second, smaller earthwork lies to the south of the main structure —a circular earthen-walled enclosure with a 170 foot diameter and a height of two and a half to three feet.

Today, the ancient site is part of Fort Hill Earthworks & Nature Preserve. Home of Ohio’s largest forest, Fort Hill spans 1,300 acres of land, including 11 miles of hiking trails. Due to its location on the western edge of the Allegheny Plateau, sediments left behind by glacial activity created the rich soil that supports its diverse range of wildflowers, birds, and fungi species.

Fort Hill Earthworks & Nature Preserve is managed locally by the Arc of Appalachia Preserve System and owned by the Ohio History Connection.

See Also


  1. Lepper, Bradley T. Ohio Archaeology: An Illustrated Chronicle of Ohio's Ancient American Indian Cultures. Wilmington, Ohio: Orange Frazer Press, 2005.
  2. Morgan, Richard G. and Edward S. Thomas. Fort Hill. Columbus, Ohio: The Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society, 1948.