Road Trippin’ with Truda: First Friday Tour of the Great Circle
Posted March 30, 2023
Yellow block with Road Trippin' with Truda written with the image of a vintage car.

By Truda Shinker, Ohio History Connection Membership Manager

Join me as I visit the sites in the Ohio History Connection network! This month's road trip took me to the First Friday Tour of the Great Circle in Heath.

The Great Circle in Heath is one of the remaining segments of the Newark Earthworks, which was built by the people of the Hopewell Culture. The entire Newark Earthworks originally encompassed more than four square miles. Over the years, the growth of the city of Newark destroyed much of it, but thanks to the efforts of dedicated local citizens, two major segments survive: the Great Circle Earthworks and the Octagon Earthworks. In addition, the Wright Earthworks preserves a small piece of the square earthwork and one wall of a set of parallel walls that led to the burial mounds that once were part of the Newark Earthworks.

You can learn more about the amazing Great Circle by taking the monthly First Friday tour with the Ohio History Connection’s senior archaeologist, Dr. Brad Lepper. Brad has devoted his career to studying the Hopewell Culture. He’s passionate about this topic and is a gifted teacher. His tours cover the history of the Great Circle from when it was built through modern times.

Group of people surrounding tour leader Brad Lepper at Great Circle site.
Newark Earthworks Site Information Sign

The next First Friday tour is scheduled for April 7. You can get more information here. If you live nearby, it would be easy to fit the tour into your schedule. It starts at 12:30 p.m. and lasts just 30-45 minutes. If you’re coming from farther away, I would recommend combining it with a trip to Flint Ridge Ancient Quarries & Nature Preserve, another Ohio History Connection site, which is just 20 minutes away. Or you could visit the beautiful Dawes Arboretum, which isn’t in our site network, but is part of the Columbus Member Advantage program and is just 10 minutes away. OHC members receive $3 off up to four tickets when they show their membership card. For more information, call the Arboretum directly at 740.323.2355.

Address: The Great Circle is located at 455 Hebron Rd. in Heath.

How much time: The First Friday tour is about 30-45 minutes long. However, you’re welcome to explore the Great Circle on your own after the tour and stay as long as you’d like. You can also visit the Great Circle at any time. It’s open year-round from dawn to dusk. The museum is open Thursday-Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. starting in April until the end of fall. I would suggest that you call the museum at 740.344.0498 before you go to confirm the dates and hours of operation

Truda's Tips: The First Friday tours are entirely outdoors, so be sure to dress for the weather. And you’ll want to wear comfortable shoes because there’s a lot of walking. There are some paved paths, but most of the site is grassy.

Kid Friendly? Yes: The Great Circle itself is very kid friendly. There’s a lot of room for kids to run around and the earthworks are incredibly impressive. I think even young kids could understand the amount of effort that went into making them. You’ll want to make sure that your kids don’t climb on the earthworks because they are sacred. The First Friday tour is lively, so I think most kids elementary school age and above could find something to interest them.

Lunch: If you’ve read any of my other Road Trippin’ articles, you know that lunch is an essential part of the experience! We made the short drive to the very walkable and charming Granville. You’ll find a wide variety of restaurants there; we chose to eat at The Pub on Broadway. Because we didn’t get there until about 2 p.m., we expected the restaurant to be almost empty. Wrong! It was packed (and was still packed when we left around 3 p.m.), which is a testament to the delicious food, great service and lovely English-pub-like interior. After lunch we walked a few doors down to the Village Coffee Company. Our whole group raved about their choices. Like the restaurant, the coffee shop was busy with local residents and Denison University students. If you have time, Granville is a wonderful place to while away an afternoon. There are a wide variety of shops, art galleries and museums along Broadway.

For more information: To learn more about the Great Circle, visit our webpage about the Newark Earthworks and learn about the First Friday tours here.

Image of a grass cover mound wall of the Great Circle with some trees in the background

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