Fort Hill Earthwork - Highland County


Fort Hill is part of the Arc of Appalachia Preserve System operated in partnership with the Ohio Historical Society.

Photo - the tree-covered earthen walls of Fort Hill's earthwork appear as a gentle rise in the surrounding landscape.

Hilltop Earthwork
The major earthwork at Fort Hill is an ancient earthen-walled enclosure constructed on top of a large flat-topped ridge. The earthen-stone wall has a circumference over one and a half miles, its span interrupted with at 36 definite made-man openings, and three more possible man-made openings.

The wall itself ranges from 6 to 15 feet in height, averages 30 feet wide at its base, and encloses 35.3 acres. It was built to follow the natural contour of the rim of the hill, and is bordered on the inside wall by a substantial ditch. The total length of the embankment has been surveyed at 8,619 feet.

It is conjectured that Fort Hill was most likely not a fort at all, but a ceremonial gathering space. Archaeological evidence suggests that the earthwork was built approximately 2000 years ago by people belonging to what is often referred to as the Hopewell Culture, an epithet derived from the surname of the European owner of an early excavation site in Chillicothe, Ohio. What name these Native Americans called themselves, and in what language they spoke, has unfortunately been lost to the mists of time. The Hopewell Culture is associated with nearly a dozen mysterious hilltop enclosures in southern Ohio.

The Fort Hill Earthwork can be accessed by following the Fort Trail, which follows the perimeter of the enclosure.