Ohio’s Earthworks and Stonehenge for a Day

ohio

Miller Elementary in Ohio, creating ‘Cardboard Stonehenge’ © Ray Picton 2006

It’s a big week for the Newark Earthworks Center in Newark, Ohio. A pilgrimage (Walk with the Ancients) is taking place along a long-lost 60 mile road that runs straight as an arrow across the Ohio landscape, to end at the Newark Earthworks, the largest geometric earthworks complex in the world, with a day of celebration. We’re so glad to see this amazing site and its native builders getting notice. We lived there for a short time 20 years ago and couldn’t believe it wasn’t internationally famous. Maybe its time has come.

Newark_map

(our own photo–please ask permission) This is a partial map of the original earthworks at Newark, Ohio. The Great Circle is in the center at the top.

So how can that tie in with Stonehenge replicas? It’s more likely than you think! And that is because of one Ray Picton, whose Newark/Stonehenge story can be seen here. He wound up in a Fulbright teacher exchange that took him from Salisbury, England to Newark Ohio. Inspired by Stonehenge and the amazing site at Newark, he and his exchange teacher had their primary school classes do comparative studies of the sites. And of course for the classes in Ohio this inevitably meant Stonehenge replicas.

Apparently many were made, but we could only find photos of this unique effort in which students went out o the lawn with large pieces of cardboard and created a Stonehenge replica formation. (Why couldn’t we have done things like this when we were in school?!!!?) Needless to say we love Mr. Picton’s picture at the top. What a great effort!

The Ohio students became more aware of the significance of the site in their own community. Meanwhile children in Salisbury, too, were learning about the amazing earthworks at Newark as well as their own great monument.

Having been at Stonehenge and Avebury and Newark, we can tell you that there is a striking simlarity especially between Avebury and one part of the Newark complex called the Great Circle. In fact the Great Circle qualifies as a henge in the strict sense, which involves ditches and banks rather than stones. It’s not as large as Avebury, of course, but it is a sizable circle with a mound in the middle, presumably for ceremony. When we lived there, native wildflowers bloomed on the grounds within the circle in  spring.

We heartily applaud Mr. Picton’s successful efforts “to embed the comparative study of the two sites into the curriculum at both schools.” This shows what a difference one person can make. And we cannot leave the topic of the Newark Earthworks without mentioning Dr. Brad Lepper who has been involved at Newark since we lived there and heard him speak many years ago.  It is largely by his work that the road of pilgrimage being walked this week was discovered.

Score? Are you kidding? We award the rare 9 druids to this living Stonehenge made of cardboard and children. We know that in recent news people have been complaining that some awards are given undeservedly, but we think that work that gives hope and paints a better future for our children deserves the highest rewards of all!

P.S.: Newark Earthworks Day is this Saturday, October 17, 2009. If you can be there, we highly recommend it!

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