Newark Earthworks

Visit an architectural wonder of ancient America, the largest set of geometric earthen enclosures in the world

Newark Earthworks

455 Hebron Road, Heath, OH, USA
Wright Earthworks, Octagon Earthworks & Great Circle Earthworks:
Grounds: Open Year Round, Daylight Hours
Note: Public areas of the Octagon Earthworks include the interpretive signs/map near parking lot, viewing platform and the path behind clubhouse to see Observatory Mound. Access to the interior of the earthworks and golf course is available only during the Open House dates.

Great Circle Museum (June - August)
Wednesday - Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

A guided tour of the Great Circle is offered the first Friday of the month, April - December, at 12:30 p.m. Please meet at the map in front of the museum,

The best way to preserve and protect the earthworks is to not walk on them.
Great Circle - All Visitors Donations Accepted Octagon - $0.00 Wright - $0.00 School groups - $3.00 per student Guided Adult groups of 10 or more - $5 per person

Masks are no longer required but please continue to practice social distancing wherever possible.

The park is open daylight to dusk. The best way to preserve and protect the earthworks is to not walk on them.

The restrooms near the shelter houses are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

A guided tour of the Great Circle is offered the first Friday of the month, April – December, at 12:30 p.m. Please meet at the map in front of the museum.

Visit

The Newark Earthworks are the largest set of geometric earthen enclosures in the world. Already a National Historic Landmark, in 2006, the State of Ohio designated the Newark Earthworks as “the official prehistoric monument of the state.” Interpretive signage around the park will help to explain the significance of the site and why American Indians regard the Newark Earthworks as a sacred site. Average visit time: Allow 1+ hours.

Note: the parking lots are a moderate distance from earthworks and museum.  A paved path with some steps provides access to the museum but there is no direct walkway to the center of the Great Circle.

While visiting Newark Earthworks, consider traveling 15 miles east to visit Flint Ridge.

History

Built by ancient American Indians identified today of the Hopewell Culture between A.D. 1 to A.D. 400, this architectural wonder of ancient America was part cathedral, part cemetery and part astronomical observatory. The entire Newark Earthworks originally encompassed more than four square miles. Over the years, the growth of the city of Newark destroyed many of the Newark Earthworks, but three major segments survived because of the efforts of interested local citizens:

  • Great Circle Earthworks (455 Hebron Rd., Heath, OH): The Great Circle Earthworks is nearly 1,200 feet in diameter and was likely used as a vast ceremonial center by its builders. The 8 feet (2.4 m) high walls surround a 5 feet (1.5 m) deep moat, except at the entrance where the dimensions are even greater and more impressive.
  • Octagon Earthworks (125 N. 33rd St., Newark, OH): Enclosing 50 acres, the Octagon Earthworks has eight walls, each measuring about 550 feet long and from five to six feet in height. The Octagon Earthworks are joined by parallel walls to a circular embankment enclosing 20 acres. At present the Octagon Earthworks is also the site of the Mound Builders Country Club golf course. The entire grounds are open four times a year, during daylight hours.
  • Wright Earthworks (On James, north of the intersection of James and Grant; west and parallel to State Route 79): This earthwork consists of a fragment of a geometrically near-perfect square enclosure and part of one wall that originally formed a set of parallel embankments, which led from the square to a large oval enclosure. Originally, the sides of the Newark square ranged from about 940 to 950 feet in length, and they enclosed a total area of about 20 acres.

The three segment site-inclusive 2022 Newark Earthworks Open House dates are:

    • ​Sunday,  April 10 – Open daylight to dusk. Self-guided tours only. Staff on hand to answer questions, noon to 4 p.m.
    • Monday, April 11   Open daylight to dusk. Self-guided tours only. Staff on hand to answer questions, noon to 4 p.m.
    • NEW!Saturday, July 23 A Walking Tour of the Newark Earthworks – a three-mile walking tour to discover the history of some of the extinct and hidden portions of the Newark Earthworks. The tour will begin at 9 a.m. in front of the museum at the Great Circle and will end around noon. Walking shoes and a water bottle are all you need, plus sunscreen or a hat — little shade on the tour, so dress accordingly. Walking tour is free.
    • Monday, July 25  –  Open daylight to dusk. Staff and local partners will be at the Great Circle and Octagon Earthworks to answer questions from noon to 4 p.m.
      • Guided tours of Octagon Earthworks at 12:30 and 2:30 p.m.
      • The Museum at the Great Circle will be open 12 to 4 p.m.
      • The Works will have an archaeoastronomy hands-on activity from 12 – 4 p.m. (Great Circle)
      • At 1 p.m. there will be a talk about Fort Ancient Earthworks and Nature Preserve (Great Circle Museum)
      • At 2 p.m. learn about astronomical alignments  (Great Circle Museum)
      • Information tables:
        • Ohio History Connection and World Heritage (Octagon Earthworks)
        • Flint Ridge Ancient Quarries and Nature Preserve (Octagon Earthworks)
    • Saturday, October 15 A Walking Tour of the Newark Earthworks – a three-mile walking tour to discover the history of some of the extinct and hidden portions of the Newark Earthworks. The tour will begin at 9 a.m. in front of the museum at the Great Circle and will end around noon. Walking shoes and a water bottle are all you need, plus sunscreen or a hat — little shade on the tour, so dress accordingly. Walking tour is free. No registration is necessary.
    • Sunday, October 16  –  Open daylight to dusk. Program schedule is still being developed. Staff on hand at the Octagon and Great Circle to answer questions, noon to 4 p.m.
      • Guided tours of Octagon Earthworks at 12:30, 2 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.
      • The Museum at the Great Circle will be open 12 to 4 p.m.
      • At 1:30 p.m. Heartland Earthworks Conservancy staff will share their efforts to identify earthworks through geophysics (Octagon)
      • Information tables:
        • Ohio History Connection and World Heritage (Octagon Earthworks)
        • Heartland Earthworks Conservancy(Octagon Earthworks)
        • Explore Licking County (Great Circle)

Advanced registration to the Open Houses is not required; admission is free. Please note all tours will be postponed or canceled in the event of severe storms that include high winds, thunder and lightening.

While we can never know with any certainty the American Indian’s purpose in designing the earthworks, one theory is that the  built they earthworks on such a massive scale for astronomical accuracy—long, straight embankments provide longer sight lines that increase the accuracy of astronomical alignments. In 1982, professors Ray Hively and Robert Horn of Earlham College in Indiana discovered that the architects aligned these earthworks to the complicated cycle of risings and settings of the moon. They recovered a remarkable wealth of indigenous knowledge relating to geometry and astronomy encoded in the design of these earthworks. The Octagon Earthworks, in particular, are aligned to the four moonrises and four moonsets that mark the limits of a complicated 18.6-year-long cycle.

World Heritage

The Newark Earthworks are one step closer to becoming part of Ohio’s first World Heritage site. The site is one of seven Ohio sites in a serial nomination of Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks. In addition to Newark Earthworks, the sites are Fort Ancient Earthworks & Nature Preserve and five sites that make up Hopewell Culture National Historical Park in Chillicothe. For more information on World Heritage and how you can help, visit worldheritageohio.org.

  • Audiences: K-5th Grade Students, 6-8th Grade Students, 9-12th Grade Students, Higher Education Students, Educators, Families, Government, Specialists, Tourists, Community Groups, History Enthusiasts & Sports Fans
  • Historical Topics: American Indian History & Archaeology
  • Regions: Central Ohio
  • Site Activities: Self-Guided
  • Museum & Site Type: Ohio History Connection Site