Hopewell mounds from the Mound City Group in Ohio. Representative image

Titans Under the Earth: Evidence for The Tall Ones, and the Ancient Mounds of Pennsylvania


This article is dedicated to the memory of John William Dillon, who kept truth and dreams alive.

During the Early Woodland Period (1000—200 BC), the Adena people constructed extensive burial mounds and earthworks throughout the Ohio Valley in Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and West Virginia. Many of the skeletal remains found in these mounds by early antiquarians and 20th-Century archaeologists were of powerfully-built individuals reaching between 6.5 and eight feet in height (198 cm – 244 cm). It is the record of these remains, which has given rise to the subject of the ancient “giants” of the Ohio Valley.

Criel Mound

Criel Mound ( Public Domain )

Destruction of Evidence

While doing research for a book on this subject over the last several years, the authors were struck by how little of the archaeology of some regions is freely accessible and available to the public. One of those areas is the state of Pennsylvania, where the Carnegie Museum destroyed countless burial mounds without filing comprehensive reports in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Many of the mounds wrecked by the Carnegie are only known to the public from old press reports, such as the following published in The Sun on December 8, 1893:

“This mound, which was originally about 100 feet long and more than 12 feet high, has been somewhat worn down by time. It is on the J.R. Secrist farm in South Huntington township…The most interesting feature in the recent excavation was the mummified torso of the human body…Portions of the bones dug up and the bones in the legs, Prof. Peterson declares, are those of a person between eight and nine feet in height.”

Miamisburg Mound

Miamisburg Mound ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )

Large Skeletal Remains

In order to add some clarity to the subjects of the mound builders and large skeletal remains from Pennsylvania, the authors reviewed a considerable amount of archaeological literature from the state and incorporated the information into several chapters of Ages of the Giants: A Cultural History of the Tall Ones in Prehistoric America (Serpent Mound Books and Press, 2017). Perhaps the most famous instance of press reports describing a large skeleton from a Pennsylvania mound is a case from Union Township in Washington County, Pennsylvania. In 1932, archaeologist George Fisher excavated the mound after he was informed that amateurs were engaged in heavy looting at the site. This situation attracted hundreds of spectators, and Fisher’s work became a subject of daily discussion by the local media. One discovery in particular was regularly reported at this time:

“One of the most interesting reports that will go into the archives is that on the body of a giant, seven feet five inches tall. This titan was found on the fifth level of the clay mound where the bodies were sandwiched between 11 layers of sandstone. The majority of the adults measured between five feet 10 inches and six feet three inches in stature…”
--The Daily Republican, 9/15/1932

“One of the skeletons of these mighty men is seven feet, five inches in length, and even the remains of the women and children show them to have been of tremendous stature. Heavy, primitive faces must have topped their mammoth bodies, Fisher says, for all of the skulls are heavy boned, with massive jaws and strong teeth that could have ripped meat into shreds…”
--The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/14/1932

A human effigy pipe created by the prehistoric Adena culture, which lived in the Ohio Valley between 800 BC and 100 AD.

A human effigy pipe created by the prehistoric Adena culture, which lived in the Ohio Valley between 800 BC and 100 AD. (

Mystery of the Mounds

Over the last decade, these types of press reports have caused several researchers to seek out more information on the mound excavated by Fisher, but until now it has remained largely a mystery. The authors found that the site is known in the archaeological literature as the Pollock’s Hill stone mound. There is some debate over the age and cultural affiliations of the mound. Archaeologist and Adena expert Don W. Dragoo considered the Pollock’s Hill Cairn to belong to an Adena stone mound sub-tradition. In more modern times, archaeologists have re-evaluated some of the mounds that Dragoo included in this cultural taxon and have suggested that they could actually date to Late Woodland times—several hundred years after the age of Adena.

One reason for the difficulty in finding professionally documented information on the Pollock’s Hill Cairn is the fact that Fisher himself did not publish the official report. Instead, Donald Cadzow published the report in 1933, utilizing information taken directly from Fisher’s field notes. According to Cadzow’s document, Fisher unearthed an extended adult skeleton covered with packed mud and rocks in the northwestern portion of the mound, which is numbered burial 39 in the field notes. Regarding this burial, Cadzow’s report states, “As the bones were in poor condition, it was impossible to obtain exact measurements. Their size, however, indicated a very large heavy person, much larger than the other burials in the mound.”

Bone size indicated a very large, heavy person. (Public Domain)

Bone size indicated a very large, heavy person. (Public Domain)

Following the excavations, the bones of over 40 skeletons from Pollock’s Hill were transported to the Museum in Harisburg and then to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. On October 12, 1932, The Pittsburg Press reported that Donald Cadzow himself was the person in charge of transporting the skeletons from Finleyville to the museum, noting, “One skeleton making the trip with Cadzow to the capital is a giant 7 feet 5 inches in height.” The information in the article came from an interview with Cadzow, who took the opportunity to condemn the Carnegie Museum’s handling of Pennsylvania’s prehistory. 

Artifacts on record from the Pollock’s Hill Cairn include two rolled copper tubular beads, bone hairpins, stemmed and tanged points, celts, one stone mortar, and perforated bear canine teeth.

Adena culture gorget ornaments always two holes at Grave Creek Mound Museum. Moundsville, WV. Representative image

Adena culture gorget ornaments always two holes at Grave Creek Mound Museum. Moundsville, WV. Representative image (

Field Notes from the Important Site

Large skeletal remains were also recovered from the McKees Rocks Mound, which once overlooked the confluence of the Ohio River and Cartier’s Creek at Stowe Township in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Frank Gerodette excavated the McKees Rocks Mound on behalf of the Carnegie Museum in 1896. Unfortunately, several controversies lead to Gerodette’s resignation from the Carnegie and permanent retreat from archaeology before a complete report was filed for the excavations. In Ages of the Giants, we utilized Gerodette’s field notes, as well as the research of five different archaeologists who reviewed the field notes, artifacts, and bones from the mound to recreate the discoveries at this important site. Relevant sources for the information provided here—as well as much more info on the site—can be found in the book. 

The McKees Rocks Mound was 16 or 17 feet (4.8 – 5.1 meters) in height at the time of excavation and 85 feet (26 meters) in diameter. There were over 30 burials in the mound of extended, cremated, and bone-bundled human remains, many of which were found in stone cist tombs. The mound was built up in three construction phases, each of which took an unknown length of time to complete. These phases span the time of Adena to the end of the Middle Woodland Period. The oldest or primary phase of the mound was a 3.5-feet-high (one-meter-high) tumulus made of river sand and clay, which covered the skeleton of an Adena female 6-foot-2-inches (188 cm) in length. 

Artifacts with this burial include an adze, four deer or elk scapula awls, a copper sheath for an imitation bear canine, 357 columnella shell beads, 153 marginella shell beads, antler and bone flaking tools, and one slate reel-shaped gorget.

Example sketch of an enlarged Adena mound

Example sketch of an enlarged Adena mound ( Public Domain )

Burial 20 was a female in a sandstone cist tomb. Referring to this burial, Frank Gerodette’s field notes mention, “the person could not have been less than 6-foot-six-inches high” (198 cm). The skull of this burial had been crushed down into the breastbones, and the bones of the feet were missing. According to the historian George Thornton Fleming (who carefully documented the excavations), the remains would have “measured seven feet in height” with the feet and neck intact. There were several other skeletons from McKees Rocks, which measured between 6-feet-2-inches and 6-feet-f4- inches in length.

Squawkie Hill, Curious Burial Mound

In northwestern Pennsylvania, many burial mounds have been attributed to a Hopewell-influenced tradition, which some archaeologists have referred to as the Squawkie Hill Culture . Squawkie Hill mounds are also found in northeastern Ohio, the Upper Ohio Valley in West Virginia, and New York State. These mounds date to the Middle Woodland period, usually between 100 and 500 AD. Squawkie Hill sites in Pennsylvania include the Sugar Run, Corydon, Irvin, and Cornplanter mound groups.

At the Cornplanter Run site in Warren County, Edmund Carpenter investigated two surviving mounds in 1941. He found the mounds to contain circular stone vaults composed of stone slabs, also featuring stone roofing. The tombs were all empty, but one still contained a blade, red ocher, and calcined bone. According to Carpenter’s report, a local artifact collector named Dudley A. Martin had looted the tombs prior to his investigations. Fortunately, Martin himself had gone public with his findings in the January 27, 1937 issue of The Altoona Tribune :

“Dudley A. Martin, octogenarian and collector of Indian relics, states that he was present at the opening of some curious burial mounds on the Cornplanter Indian reservation in Warren County nearly fifty years ago. These barrows were walled up inside and had outlets to the air, so much so that on opening one mound it was found to be full of rattlesnakes…In one mound was found the skeleton of a chief seven feet tall, wearing much barbaric adornment and jewelry.”

There are many similar accounts from burial mounds featuring traits similar to the Cornplanter Mounds along the Pennsylvania—New York State border region:

“…just over the line in Genesee Township, a mound about fourteen feet in diameter, walled up by a stone cairn, about three or four feet high…Some curious persons dug into the side of this mound and brought to light the skeleton of a man of gigantic size, also the bones of a dog, nearly all of the bones crumbing upon exposure to the air…With the bones were found numerous flint arrow-heads, and some stone ornaments, and about a pint of  small shells, which also soon disintegrated upon exposure.”

 “In December, 1886, W. H. Scoville, of Andrews Settlement, discovered a mound at Ellisburg. On exploring it were found parts of the skeleton of a man measuring between seven and eight feet.”

--Michael A Leeson, History of the Counties of McKean, Elk, Cameron and Potter, Pennsylvania , J.H. Beers & Co., 1860.

“This mound was opened by vandals about 25 years ago, and entire skeletons in a good state of preservation were tossed aside or carried off by schoolboys. Many of the remains were found near the surface, covered by broad flagstones, while others were found at a considerable depth. Great quantities of arrow heads, discoidals, stone axes and beads of various kinds were discovered with the bones. Some of the skeletons were of such large proportions as to indicate that the people who lived in the days when the mound was built were a race of giants.”
--Pittsburgh Daily Post , October 7, 1895.

Archaeological research conducted in recent years indicates that the cultural history of Western Pennsylvania—including the Adena, Hopewell, and Late Woodland mounds—is in need of revision. Perhaps as these new investigations progress, more information on obscure and little-known sites will become available.  

Jason Jarrell and Sarah Farmer  are investigative historians and avocational archaeologists, and are the authors of Ages of the Giants: A Cultural History of the Tall Ones in Prehistoric America (Serpent Mound Books and Press, 2017).  |


Top Image: Hopewell mounds from the Mound City Group in Ohio. Representative image (Heironymous Rowe/ CC BY-SA 3.0) Bones, and archaeological sketches of Adena sites. (Public Domain);Deriv.

By Jason Jarrell and Sarah Farmer


Don W. Dragoo, “The Linn Mound: An Upper Ohio Valley Adena Stone Mound”, Pennsylvania Archaeologist 25 (1), 1955.

Mark A. McConaughy, “Reassessing Peter’s Creek and Linn Mounds, Washington County, Pennsylvania”, Pennsylvania Archaeologist 84 (2), 2014.

Donald Cadzow, “Mr. George Fisher’s Discoveries in Western Pennsylvania”, Pennsylvania Archaeologist 3 (3), 1933.

See Chapter 10: “Adena in Pennsylvania”, in Ages of the Giants: A Cultural History of the Tall Ones in Prehistoric America by Jason Jarrell and Sarah Farmer, Serpent Mound Books and Press, 2017.

George Thornton Flemming , History of Pittsburgh and Environs: From Prehistoric Days to the American Revolution, 1922.

See Chapter 15: “The Tall Ones and the Middle Woodland Mounds of the Northeast: The Squawkie Hill Culture”, in Ages of the Giants: A Cultural History of the Tall Ones in Prehistoric America by Jason Jarrell and Sarah Farmer, Serpent Mound Books and Press, 2017.

 Edmund Carpenter, “The Irvin, Cornplanter, and Corydon Mounds, Warren County, Pennsylvania”, in Pennsylvania Archaeologist 26 (2), 1956.


Hello Jason & Sarah,

This is an exciting subject to read about thank you for sharing this intriguing topic from the past.
It's funny, I believe in The Bible and what it teaches about Giant's living before & after The Great Flood especially Goliath and the 5 more Giants; that made Goliath look like a pygmie Sperm Whales.

I hadn't considered the possiblity that the Greek Stories of the Titans and Giant's could be true. I didn't connect that Avenue until, I re-discovered The Bible Book's of Enoch.

I had dismissed them on the account they sounded more Greek than Biblical. Then, I had a Spiritual Revelation and so I now believe not only in Enoch and what He witnessed but those same Greek Stories regarding the Olympians.

I do believe that they are Tribes of Giant's buried there in Pennsylvania the Titans in the Greek Stories and Enoch had Special Abilities like out of Stan Lee's X-Men or DC Comics Superman, Green Lantern.

The Giants possessed brute strength but that was IT not too mention there inhumanity towards people in general.

The fascination with Enoch is that the Book teaches where The Titans and the Olympians originated. From these X-Men like beings this how the Giant Race came to be.

to find Undocumented mounds and Earthworks USE Google Earth Pro Timeline to 1997 or 1994 for better view !
From the Triangle Mound attached to End Moraine Negley Ohio , Draw a line south to Ohio river 11.5 miles roughly , Negley south end of valley draw line on west side of Solar Henge, Fredericktown Triangle Mound, Thompson park undocumented Earthworks, and Round Mound in East Liverpool will be in line. From the Negley Triangle Mound Draw a line East into Pennsylvania the Beaver River 11.5 miles roughly , the line will go through Indian Rock an Undocumented mound in south Beaver County a Round Mound 51 Constitution Blvd. Cuts Through the mound, which is beside a huge Earth works East of Darlington South of New Galilee each leg of earth work is 2600 ft long all in PA. were Damaged by strip cutting in the 1950's & 1960's BUT STILL THERE !

We have found 9 undocumented Mounds and Earthworks between Pittsburgh and Cleveland and both city's are involved. use Google earth pro. draw line from Pittsburgh city center square or red dot to Cleveland city center square or red dot . Line goes through largest Mound in North America documented in 1914 Ohio Mound Atlas Columbiana county Middleton twp. Negley Ohio . and Connected by road to a Undocumented Equilateral slick sided Triangle Mound but separated by the village, at South end of wild & scenic river valley a undocumented Solar Henge for solar calculations from triangle pyramid mound. all incredible only one documented and never researched !

Let me first say, I found this article interesting and I see your point of view. I have learned separately about giants and Adena culture in archaeology courses that I took while I was at university. While it was an interesting read, I felt that there were parts that were lacking support. Foremost, the references that were cited throughout the article while they are the original reports from the first researchers of the mounds (Dragoo (1955), Cadzow (1933), Flemming (1922), Carpenter (1956)), they are dated. These articles all came about a time where archaeology was in its scientific infancy and the thick description of human remains as “gigantic” is purely arbitrary. I am a person who stands at 5 feet and 7 inches, therefore anyone taller than me, I could refer to as a giant, however, I do not. A six-foot-tall person – even by our standards of today – is tall, but I would not classify them as a giant. Furthermore, a lot of the early archaeologists and researchers only recorded the cultural data, as presented in the article (the size of the mound and the number of artifacts found in the grave). An interpretation of the remains was never their forte, only cultural history and data. Therefore, the methodology and interpretation of the biological materials (i.e. human remains) can be skewed and should be reexamined in a modern understanding, especially in the cases where it was reported that an individual stood 9-feet tall. For example, Mark McConaughy, in his 2011 article “Burial Ceremonialism at Sugar Run Mound (36WA359), a Hopewellian Squawkie Hill Phase Site, Warren County, Pennsylvania” from Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology, readdressed the discoveries at the site and did not focus on the size of the individuals, but rather the cultural interpretation of the site that was ignored the first time. Additionally, I struggled with finding other reports about the giants being buried in the mounds other than what was provided in the article. Therefore, I would caution the usage of the term giant and when describing past people. This my opinion about this topic and I am willing to discuss more about it.

Our search is for the same. Evidence of tall 8' pre-Polynesian inhabitants rumoured to have been found years ago and hastily covered up. We are aware of three sites, interestingly all in an almost perfect line over 30 miles. We are slowly digging out a filled phreatic looking tube into a cave in the hill. The fill is not natural and has been placed there by hand, and we we are only following a rumour but why fill a tube over 4ft round, top to bottom, for so far 25 feet into a hillside if you weren't intent on hiding what is inside? No promises, but follow us...


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