At 46 feet, this is Florida's tallest Native American ceremonial earthwork mound, which was built between 1100 and 1800 years ago, however artifacts and evidence of nearly 12,000 years of human habitation have been found at this site.
ABOUT THIS MOUND
ABOUT THIS MOUND AND WHO BUILT IT
This site is one of three known major surviving mound complexes in the Florida Panhandle. It is believed to have been built by the Weedon Island Culture (200-900 CE), Native Americans who lived in North Florida. The hierarchical society planned and constructed massive earthwork mounds and villages. This mound complex had about ten smaller mounds and two plazas. The large mound itself had two side platforms, an earthen ramp and a top styled similar to Meso-American structures. The main village was to the south of the complex near Lloyd Creek.
Letchworth was built over the course of hundreds of years. The largest mound is estimated to have been made using 27 million gallons of soil, mixed with shells, and encased in clay and was completely built by hand one basketful at a time. It is approximated that it took at least six-million trips from a nearby pit. Although the mound today has trees and underbrush growing from it, when originally built, such earthwork mounds were typically clear of vegetation, with smooth prepared sides. The mound measures 300 feet in width and has a height between 46 and 50 feet.
The mound likely rose from flat plazas which were intentionally leveled. Mounds like those at Letchworth-Love Archaeological State Park would have served as gathering places for rituals, games and major occasions. The community, of which such a tall mound was likely the center, would have included nearby dwellings for workers, and communal fields and gardens. Large quantities of maize would have been cultivated to support the population density of such complex societies.
Researchers believe the Letchworth mound served as a capital monument for the social, political and religious spheres of Weeden life. Archaeological research indicates the mounds were built between 200 - 900 CE by members of the Swift Creek and Weeden Island Native American cultures, a group of Native Americans who lived in North Florida between 450 and 900 CE. Some scholars, however, have suggested the mounds were more closely styled like those of the Mississippians, a later culture in Florida.
MORE ABOUT THE PARK
The park offers picnicking, birding and hiking. The pavilion has interpretive displays and a bronze sculpture of the mound. An interpretive trail starts at the base of the ceremonial mound and winds past several smaller mounds. The pavilion picnic area and platform viewing area for the mound are wheelchair-accessible. Guided tours are available upon request.
Included in the extensive list of animals that call Letchworth-Love Mounds Archaeological State Park home are armadillos, gray squirrels and opossum. You might even detect coyotes, bobcats, marsh rabbits, gray and red foxes and raccoons. Amphibians you could come across are slimy flatwood salamanders and a variety of frogs. If you’re interested in reptiles keep your eyes peeled for alligators, the endangered gopher tortoises, common musk turtles, snapping turtles and an assortment of snakes.
Resource management measures in Letchworth-Love Mounds Archaeological State Park are low impact, and sensitive to known cultural resources and the potential for undiscovered resources. Natural community restoration efforts are limited to non-ground disturbing measures such as mechanical treatment of early successional woody species and prescribed burning. Habitats and plant communities include: hardwood forest, which is a mature forest with mesic conditions; mixed woodland with dominant tree species of shortleaf pine and various oaks; bottomland forest, which is a low-lying area prone to periodic flooding; wetland depression marshes, and a basin swamp.
page information credit: Florida State Parks, Wikipedia, Division of Historical Resources, Florida Public Archaeology Network
photos from the sources listed above, as well as publicly posted online sites with thanks to the contributors