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Ancient Works

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Historic marker addressing "Ancient Works"

Ancient Walls

In Fayette County, near the present-day community of Mount Carbon, WV, on a ridge on Armstrong Mountain between Armstrong and Loop creeks are the remains of an extensive prehistoric stone ruins whose walls were several miles long, and that enclosed a large area of more than 300 acres. Many of these stones that made up the ancient walls are from the valley below the ancient wall, some weighing several hundred pounds.

Following the summit of Armstrong Mountain, the walls formed an irregular enclosure, or pen. The walls were up to six feet in height, built on a base from six to eight feet wide. This series of walls were eight to ten miles in length.

The wall followed the approximate contour of the mountain, running about 300 feet below the high summits of the mountain, winding around the contours of the mountain's watersheds, finally crossing the the main ridge and returning in the same manner on the other slope making a complete enclosure facing the river, of about three miles in length and varying in width from a hundred yards to a mile or more.

The total length of the wall was estimated to be eight or ten miles. A single cross wall at a narrow point divided the enclosure into two nearly equal arms,. In one section, there was a reliable water supply of more than a half cubic inch flow. Near this spring there were found two large cirular heaps of stone, forming a tower structures, circular in nature, of about twenty feet in diameter, possibly being twenty feet in height at one time.

Ancient Village

The land at the base of the mountain, between the two creeks, immediately in front of the wall, varies in width from 500 to 2000 feet, totaling an area of bottomland about 200 acres in size.

In this bottomland area, along the Kanawha River, 30 skeletons, all buried in like position were found during the building of the C&O Railway (circa 1873). A few loose stones had been piled upon each set of bones, just below the surface. All bodies were buried facing the east.

At the same time were found the remainds of bear, deer, elk, birds and fish, as well as charcoal and charred bone. Flint spear and arrow heads were found in great abundance in various sizes and shapes. Also found were many quoit-shaped stones, which had been marked. Pottery was found made from river mussel-shells, pounded and mixed with loam.

Excavations of the bottomlands in 1961-62, established that there were likley three main occupations in this area: Hopewellian, from about A.D. 500; Woodland Era, of about A.D. 1000; and Fort Ancient Era, a town of about A.D. 1500.

The report suggested the people occuping the area during Woodland Era were "probably Shawnee", but according to Cherokee traditional history, and several treaties from the 1700's, the area south of the Kanawha would have been lands claimed by the Cherokee.

Over 60 burials were recorded from the village area, and many storage pits, and evidence of houses and palisades were discovered. The study concluded that the "Ancient Wall" on Armstrong Mountain was probably constructed between A.D. 1 and 500, by Hopewellian peoples of the village in the bottom. The research discovered Kanawha black flint stratum naturally occurring just below the walls, finding evidence that it was quarried by Indians, as flint workshop areas were found on the mountaintop.

Ancient Wall at Pratt

Another wall enclosing a large area of ground was located about ten miles from the Loop Creek wall, located on top of the mountain overlooking the Kanawha River at the mouth of Paint Creek. This wall was said to be smaller than the other, but similar in other ways. Grave sites were also discovered in the valley near this second wall, in the area that is now the village of Pratt.

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