Dunbar Mound

A burial mound that is 20 feet tall with a diameter of 80 feet stands on a golf course in the Shawnee Regional Park in Dunbar, West Virginia. I visited the mound in late-December 2016 while on a trip to see the Criel Mound in South Charleston.

The Dunbar Mound, alternately called Poorhouse Mound, Shawnee Reservation Mound, and the Institute Fairgrounds Mound once stood at 25 feet tall and its diameter exceeded 80 feet. The Bureau of Ethnology performed a partial excavation of the mound in the late-1800s. The details can be found in the 5th Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. In the report, a link is established between the mounds of the Kanawha Valley in West Virginia with mounds in Ohio. When excavating the Dunbar Mound, at a depth of 25 feet, a stone altar was discovered which closely resembled altars found in Ohio mounds. Additionally, several skeletons were recovered including two “very large skeletons.”

In a mound nearby, a skeleton “fully seven feet long” was found in a vault with its head facing west. On Colonel B. H. Smith’s farm, near Charleston, a large mound consisting of two mounds built on top of one another was excavated and a large skeleton was found inside of a stone vault. At a deeper level, another vault was found with several skeletons laid out in a peculiar fashion. A central skeleton measuring 7’6″ lay in the center of the vault and four other skeletons—presumably of average size—were situated on the four corners of the vault.

Getting back to the Dunbar Mound, during my visit, I walked around the mound several times with an EMF meter. Each time, I picked up a large spike on the eastern side of the mound, almost due east. What does this mean? Probably nothing, but I thought it was interesting.

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