Twists in the Tale of the Serpent Mound

Ohio's Serpent Mound seems to be the only serpent mound selected for tourism. Thu 03 February 2022

Adams County Serpent Mound, Ohio, US. Source

Warren County Serpent Mound, Stubbs Earthwork, Ohio, US. Source: Stubbs Earthworks

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Loch Nell serpent mound, Oban, Scotland. Source: In the Hebrides, Constance Gordon-Cummin

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Keene serpent mound, Ontario, Canada. Source

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Skelmorlie serpent mound, Scotland. Source: On Prehistoric Traditions and Customs in Connection with Sun and Serpent Worship

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Carn Brae serpent mound, Redruth, Cornwall Source: Observations on the Antiquities Historical and Monumental of the County of Cornwall

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Ortona serpent mound, Florida, US. Source

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Grimsby serpent mound, Lincolnshire, England. Source: The Monumental Antiquities of Grimsby

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Greater Cambrae serpent mound. Candidate location. Source: Topographic-Map

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Boyd County serpent mound, Kentucky, US. Source: The Stone Serpent Mound of Boyd County Kentucky

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Likely location of Glenelg's alleged serpent mound. Source: Google Maps)

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Likely location of Seattle's alleged serpent mound. Source: Google Maps)

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  • Serpent mounds tend to be near water: lake shore, sea shore, river.
  • Despite all known serpent mounds being found quite recently, locations and descriptions of an alleged dozen more serpent mounds are no longer available.
  • Modern western writers promote serpent mounds as spiritual and/or astronomical tools. Earlier western writers reported them as sacrifice sites. Where known, locals claim they were built by giants, sometimes cannibalistic giants.
  • Serpent mounds tend to be close to complexes of mounds containing body parts and artifacts used for butchery and cooking.
  • Loch Nell and Grimsby serpent mound are both near settlements with names that sound like 'Clee' (Cleigh and Cleethorpes, respectively).
  • The serpent mounds in Boyd County in Kentucky, Loch Nell in Scotland, and Grimsby in England, are near places with 'Ket' or 'Cat' in their name:
    • Boyd County: Cattlesberg
    • Loch Nell: Catrail
    • Grimsby: Ket Bank.
  • Where construction techniques are known, serpent mounds were built with similar construction techniques:
    • ash, sand, clay, and originally capped with stones

The discovery-date problem:

Earliest dates serpent mounds are documented:

  • 1754: Carn Brae, Cornwall, England
  • 1815: Ohio, US
  • 1825: Grimsby, England
  • 1837: Warren County, Ohio, US
  • 1870: Greater Cambrae, Scotland
  • 1871: Loch Nell, Scotland
  • 1871: Skelmorlie, Scotland
  • 1896: Keene, Ontario
  • 1930: Ortona, Florida
  • 1937: Glenelg, Scotland
  • 1960s: Boyd County, Kentucky

Why not earlier?

  • America and Canada are 'new' countries in terms of western written records. Their serpent mounds are mostly recorded in the 19th and 20th centuries.
  • Scotland and England are 'old' countries in terms of western written records. They also have long histories of churches competing with - and building on - pagan sites. Yet all but one of Britain's serpent mounds are also documented only in the 19th century. Apparently soon after discovery.

Serpent mounds blip into the records in the early-mid 19th century and then mostly disappear almost immediately. This is similar to the problem with English mounds and tumuli which often looked new when first described - again in the 18th and 19th centuries.

It suggests one of the following is nearer to the truth. That:

  1. All the serpent mounds were new in the early 19th century or had been recently reconfigured.
  2. Interest in documenting serpent mounds was new. Hard to believe given the alleged long church history in Britain.
  3. Serpent mounds were old but new people were re-discovering them. New people in north America, England, Scotland and Israel.
  4. Serpent mounds were old but were being given a new past; one in which their previous role was reduced to occasional 'sacrifices' and to 'astronomy'. Except in the British Isles, where memories of the dreaded serpent-shaped structures were rewritten as corny folktales:

The final twist. Source: AMI Tour of a Beef Packing Plant

Known British serpent mound locations

Construction Techniques

The gap between horns and head shows up in some of Britain's 'Norman' motte and bailey castles. As a ditch between bailey and motte:

Military? Or cattle management? Source: The Motte and Bailey Castle

Serpent mound materials techniques also show up in motte and bailey construction.

Durham's The Motte and Bailey Castle says:

Mottes were artificial mounds constructed by piling consecutive layers of earth and stones and then compacting them. The stones were essential to ensure that the motte would remain solid and also helped with drainage. The sides of the motte were often covered with a thick layer of clay – this prevented erosion and made it even harder for invaders to get up to the keep at the top,

This page about other Ohio mounds shows:

Other possible serpent mounds

Reported Lost Serpent Mounds in the UK:

  • Clenamacrie, Scotland. Looking for more details.
  • West of Bute, Scotland. Looking for more details.
  • Possibly Glen lonan, Scotland. Looking for more details.

Source: TheHazelTree

  • Possibly Murkle, Scotland
  • Also in Argyleshire, Roxburghshire, and
  • Arran
  • Possible serpentine barrow arrangement, Mendip Hills, England
  • 'The Avenue' at Avebury (Guglielmo Stukeley's interpretation of The Avenue) and The Worship of the Serpent, John Bathurst Deane, 1833, p375

Source: Reptile Tumuli: A Lecture, John Samuel Phené, 1871

Reported serpent mound in Ireland:

Reported Lost Serpent Mounds in the US:

  • Wisconsin Serpent Mound
  • serpent intaglio in Rice County, Kansas

Reported serpent mounds in the middle east:

Proposed serpent mound is top centre

Stone pavements - possible serpent mounds:
More complex Ohio earthworks

Which includes:

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