Adena earthworks, Fayette County, Kentucky
In the heart of the Bluegrass Region lies a prime example of the adena “sacred circle” and one of the very few Adena monuments remaining in Kentucky. The enclosure at Adena Park has a diameter of 300’ and outside circumference of 75-‘. The embankment is 12’-14’ wide at the base. The inner ditch, 12’-15’ deep, has a midline circumference of 555’. A 33’ wide opening in the embankment provided access via a causeway to an inner platform of 150’ in diameter. Both the causeway and the central area represent unexcavated portions of the original ground surface.
The Adena Park enclosure was part of a more extensive earthworks complex known as the Mt. Horeb Earthworks. ½ mile southwest of the circle was an elliptical embankment 3,900’ long enclosing 25 acres. About .25 mile to the west was a low mound 3.5’ high and about 70’ in diameter. A circular work similar to the remaining enclosure but smaller was located 600’ to the southwest.
The Mt. Horeb Earthworks—in particular, the Scared Circle—caught the attention of early antiquarians and was described as early as 1824. The complex was surveyed in 1930, and the larger circle was proposed as a state park. In1936, the site and 6 adjoining acres were purchased by private subscription and became the property of Kentucky Archaeological Society. Today it is maintained as a park by the University of Kentucky for day use by its faculty, staff and students and their families.
Excavations by the Works Progress Administration in 1939 revealed that a wooden structure once stood on the center platform. Paired postholes formed a circle 97’ in diameter. There was no obvious entrance and no evidence of there ever having been a roof. The structure’s function is unknown, although William S. Webb, who directed the excavation, suggested it might have served as one clan’s ceremonial and social center, somewhat like the circular, subterranean kivas of the Pueblo Indians of the American Southwest. Entry to the “open-air-kiva” could been gained by a ladder or ramp over the posts.
Directions: Exit Interstate 75 at Exit 115, go N on Kentucky Route 922 about 6 miles to Iron Works Pike, Then E on Iron Works Pike .2 miles, then N on Mt. Horeb Pike 2.5 miles to Adena Park entrance on E side of road.
Public Use: Season and Hours: Open year round, by reservation, to students and employees of the University of Kentucky. Permission for persons not affiliated with the University to enter the park should be obtained from the campus recreation department. Park closes at 10:00 PM. Fees: $10.00 deposit required to secure gate key. Restrictions: Driving or parking on the earthworks prohibited.
For additional Information: contact: campus recreation department, University of Kentucky, Seaton Building, Room 135, Lexington, Ky. 40506-0219, 606-257-2898. Read: webb, W.S. 1941. Mt. Horeb earthworks, site 1 and the Drake Mound, site 11, Fayette County, Kentucky.
Below is a map:
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