Just like the path of the sun and the moon and all the planets, the principal route into Mansfield is from the east.
If you have entered from the east on US Route 30 you know this thoroughfare has the most commanding view of the city; in fact, if the guardians of the city were to choose a seat on high from which to watch our town it would be on that eastern rim of the valley high above the Rocky Fork, on the sandstone mount with the best overlook.
Two thousand years ago the people who lived around Mansfield clearly felt the same way.
That’s where they placed their sacred circle from which to watch the planets circle the earth of our town.
Ancient earthworks in Mansfield
When the pioneers came to Richland County it was apparent to them they were not the first wave of settlers to choose these hills upon which to build their civilization.
There were already structures and edifices here when they arrived, constructed of mounded dirt: some of them quite monumentally and artfully designed.
The mounds had trees growing on them: huge trees that were hundreds of years old.
Scientists of the 19th century had no context in which to place the ancient earthworks: the weird landmarks defied all frame of reference in the known history of the known world, and presented only baffling questions.
Information about the “mound builders” during the early 1800s was purely speculative, and theories of who they might have been ran a wide spectrum of fantastic notions from Biblical giant Nephilim to the Lost Tribes of Israel.
All scientists and historians could do at that point of the timeline was to document their findings.
The first description of the Mansfield mound complex was published in the Mansfield Herald in the 1850s.
Witnesses described, “a well defined oval embankment with aged oaks growing thereon; 594 feet long, 238 feet wide, containing two and two-thirds acres.”
They also made note of “a series of depressions, arranged geometrically, of various widths and depths; some of which are four feet in depth, and some ten to twenty feet in diameter.”
In 1879 the County Surveyor investigated the site, which was referred to at that time as ‘the principal earthwork in Richland County.” A couple holes were dug to the depth of eight feet, but they turned up nothing striking, so interest lapsed for another generation.