Serpent Mound of Ohio

Location: Peebles, Ohio

Webpage: Ohio State Park

General Description: The Serpent Mound is a 1,348-foot (411 m)-long, three-foot-high prehistoric effigy mound on a plateau of the Serpent Mound crater along Brush Creek.  Conforming to the curve of the land on which it rests, with its head approaching a cliff above a stream, the serpent winds back and forth for more than eight hundred feet and seven coils, and ends in a triple-coiled tail. The serpent head has an open mouth extending around the east end of a 120-foot (37 m)-long hollow oval feature that may represent the snake eating an egg, though some scholars believe that the oval feature symbolizes the sun, the body of a frog, or merely the remnant of a platform.  There is evidence that large fires were lit on this platform.  The effigy mound was originally believed to be the product of the Adeena culture around 300 BC, however, a 1996 carbon dating study placed the construction at around 1070 AD during the Fort Ancient culture which is contemporary to the Mississippian moundbuilders that widely used serpent symbols.  The confusion comes from dating carbon found in the figure which range across the time line and the older dates could be from samples already in the dirt when it was moved to construct the effigy.  The purpose of the effigy, besides spiritual inspiration, could be astronomical.  The most telling is the alignment of the head and egg with the Summer Solstice looking out over the bluff.  However, each of the serpent coils also aligns with other celestial events such as the spring and fall equinox and the maximum and minimum placement of the moonrise and moonset.  Serpent Mound is the largest serpent effigy in the world although there are similar examples in Scotland and Ontario.


1) The Serpent Mound is one of the oldest state historical sites, being bought by Massachusetts archaeologist Frederic Ward Putnam in the 1880s in the name of Harvard University.  It became a public park in 1900 with the construction of the observation tower.  The facilities and shelter house were added in the 1930s by the CCC.  The small museum/gift shop has only a few exhibits of artifacts, however, the video they have is very well done and does an excellent job of explaining the difficulty in determining who constructed the mound.


2) The view from the top of the observation tower is not to be missed!!  From this vantage point you can see the entirety of the Serpent Mound as it undulates across the top of the bluff.


3) There is also a paved trail around the entire mound with signposts identifying the astronomical event that aligns with each of the seven coils.  The sheer drop to Brush Creek from the head of the serpent is also very impressive and would provide a perfect unobstructed view of the rising sun on the Summer Solstice.

4) The entire site takes only a about an hour to fully explore, however, it is well worth the drive to this remote location in southern Ohio.