Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Native American Burial Mound - South Charleston, WV

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Sunday we went to lunch in South Charleston and I decided I wanted to go up on top of the Native American burial mound, because although I probably have gone up there at some time or another, I couldn't remember doing so. And it was a beautiful day for pictures.

The Criel Mound is located in South Charleston, West Virginia. It is a conical burial mound built by the Adena culture sometime between 250 and 150 BC. There is some evidence the site was used by Native Americans as late as 1650. It was the burial ground for an Adena village. It was built between two "sacred circles", each 556 feet in diameter. It was originally 33 feet high and 173 feet in diameter at the base (the 2nd largest burial mound in WV). The mound was originally conical in shape, but the top was leveled in 1840 for the erection of a judges' stand that was used for horse races that were conducted around the base of the mound at the time.

In 1883-1884, the mound was excavated by a professor from the Smithsonian Institute. They dug in from the top. Near the top they found some human bones that they think were uncovered when the judges' stand was built. A little further down were two skeletons lying on their backs, heads facing south and feet near the center. Near the heads lay two celts, two stone hoes, one lance head, and two disks.

Further down, they found numerous other skeletons, including a burial vault containing the remains of 11 Native Americans thought to have been killed in battle. The skeletons at the base consisted of a single large skeleton at the center, surrounded by ten other skeletons arranged in a spoke-like pattern, with their feet pointing toward the central skeleton. The skeletons at the base had been wrapped in elm bark and were lying on a floor of white ash and bark. Several artifacts were found buried with the skeletons, including arrowheads, lanceheads, and shell and pottery fragments. The central skeleton was accompanied by a fish-dart, a lance-head, and a sheet of hammered native copper near the head. Holes found at the base of the mound suggest that the bodies at the base had been enclosed in a wooden vault.

The artifacts and skeleton remains are at the Smithsonian. There area where the mound is has been turned into a park, and various community activities are held there.

The mound is near the entrance to downtown South Charleston.

There are steps that wind around the mound to the top on each side.

Dave decided to take the fast way up.

At the top is a bench

The views aren't much to write home about, though. A car lot and a chemical plant

At least you can also see the downtown too

On this side of the mound is a park, that includes a fountain, some trees (including one planted by a boy scout troop in 1932) and a sculpture.

The sculpture is called "Burial Attendants", by Cubert Smith, 1979 {Smith was also one of the sculptors of a sculpture I photographed at Harris Riverfront Park and posted here recently}

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