Oct 25, 2022. Home / Manchester, Tennessee / Events

A guide to the ancient ruins of Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park

Built between 1,500 and 2,000 years ago, the Old Stone Fort belongs to the Middle Woodland Period. This area was inhabited continuously by Native Americans for over 500 years until it was abandoned. The area’s use was unclear when European settlers arrived, and as a result, it was mistakenly called a fort. Upon purchasing the Chumbley estate in 1966, Tennessee developed Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park from 400 acres. In the park, guests can enjoy an array of activities.

Old Stone Fort was a ceremonial gathering place for the Native Americans, and the hiking trail follows its wall. On the trail through the fort site, you can see the original entrance, which was designed so that the sun rises exactly at the spot on the horizon when the summer solstice happens.

With twelve interpretive panels and graceful waterfalls, visitors can learn about the Old Stone Fort on this hike. History lovers from around the world visit Old Stone Fort every year. At the park’s museum, you will find reproductions of prehistoric Native American artefacts, along with dioramas and photographs.

In the exhibits, you can learn about the theories of the builders, the excavations on-site, and their culture. Additionally, there is a small theatre where videos and group presentations can be viewed. In addition to the museum, there is a gift shop, park office, and welcome center.

Old Stone Fort is a former fortification

Stone and earthwork are used to create the walls of the Old Stone Fort, which are typically 4–6 feet high. As a result of the crude stacking of rocks and slabs and gravel and earthen fill, the original walls were made up of an inner and outer layer. With time, the earthen fill spilt over the rock layers, causing the present mound-like appearance of the walls. In general, there are three sections of retaining walls, with two sections running roughly parallel to the Duck and Little Duck Rivers and a third following the southern edge of the peninsula.

Along the north-eastern side of the peninsula, the parallel sections of rivers gradually move inward, away from their respective rivers, until they form a pincer-like formation. In this case, both walls terminate just before convergent, offering a small entrance. A “pedestal” mound measuring 35 feet (11 meters) and a larger mound measuring 48 feet (15 meters) is found on either side of the structure’s entrance. The entrance leads to the structure’s interior through a 120-foot (37 m) long L-shaped corridor. Approximately 1,394 feet (425 m) of the fort’s walls follow the Duck River, while 1,094 feet (333 m) follow the Little Duck.

There is a ridge bulge in the southern walls that extends outward for approximately 2,116 feet (645 meters). The southern wall and the north-western wall, the southern wall, and the southeast wall are separated by large sections of open space. Since these mounds overlook steep bluffs carved out by the Duck and Little Duck rivers, its waters probably served the same purpose as the mounds.

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