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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Warren County Once Home To Two Other "Ancient Forts"

Dallas Bogan on 28 July 2004
Dallas Bogan, Warren County, Ohio and Beyond (Bowie Maryland: Heritage Press, 1979) page 279
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We have all heard of Fort Ancient and most of us have visited it, but did you know Warren County had two other prehistoric forts within its boundaries? There is one in the northwestern corner of the County, partially in Warren and Montgomery, called Carlisle Fort or Fort Carlisle. The other one existed on the hill opposite Foster on the west side of the Little Miami. It was in one respect the most remarkable one in the country. In this area the river flows south through a deep gorge. On the west side of the river a steep accent led to a high narrow plateau. This plateau was bounded on the west by a tributary known as Cline's Run. Thus, the plateau was surrounded by the river and creek on all but its northern portion.
Around the steep sides of this hill and cutting across the northern and part of the southern portions, there was a singular structure of burnt clay and stones which had long been an object of interest in the neighborhood. Many tons of burnt clay and slag were to be found in the walls. Professor F.W. Putnam, of the Peabody Museum in connection with Harvard University, made an exploration in August 1890. Helping the professor with the project was a Mr. Crosson and a Mr. Dorsey. A camp was set up within the enclosure in a group of oaks, maples and other trees, which had long been preserved.
Mr. Crosson was placed in charge of the exploration with Mr. Dorsey as chief assistant. The work was carried on until the end of September with interesting results as to the formation of this singular structure. The structure was in the form of a circumvallation over half a mile in length. The height of the northern portion was nine to twelve feet high above the level of the field, and was about forty-five feet in average width. The area across the southeastern portion of the bank, though partly destroyed, was still several feet high. Around the edge west of the hill, the rise above the level of the enclosed portion was hardly noticeable, but the structure extended into the sides of the hill about fifty feet, and from ten to twenty feet down the sides.
The whole structure was made up of a carefully laid wall of flat stones along the outer side several feet to height. Behind this were loose stones, large and small, making up nearly half the structure. Behind and over these stones was a mass of clay burnt to all degrees of hardness. Only slightly burnt to great masses of slag displayed that the clay had been subjected to much heat. In some places it formed a surface over the slag, which resembled a blast furnace. In many places the limestones had been burnt in varying degrees. Here and there, large quantities of pure lime were found. Large pieces of charcoal and beds of ashes were discovered in many parts of the structure. At one place on the north side, the burnt material ran out in the form of a low mound nearly one hundred feet long and eighty feet wide. At this point there was a larger quantity of charcoal and ashes than in other part of the works explored. Here was also uncovered a singular wall of stones about six feet long and two feet high. All throughout the excavation, with the digging of a trench, burnt stones and clay, ashes and charcoal, and a mass of stones was faced on the other side by a good stonewall.
In the northern portion a few potsherds, two flat points and a few flint flakes were found. This was the only evidence discovered of the work of man, except the singular structure itself. Several trenches were made within the enclosure. The plowed portion was carefully examined for traces of former habitation and for burials. But with the exception of a few arrow points found on the surface, not a thing was discovered to indicate that the place had ever been occupied.
The extreme labor in this project must have taken a great period of time. The enclosure itself could have possibly been a habitational location. It is a possibility that the burials took place in the surrounding perimeter. The burnt clay enclosure was known locally as "the fort." With the absence of tools, burials, etc., a knowledge of the builders is left unknown, a mystery left unsolved. A structure of this kind could have been of regular clay, why burnt clay?
Mr. Crosson made numerous sketches and a Mr. Savill took a number of pictures. A thorough investigation was made with no clues as to why a prehistoric civilization would take up such an undertaking. With little evidence of antiquities, and certainly no evidence of any battles, history will have to write this "fort" off simply as a great archaeological find.

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This page created 28 July 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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