Saturday, January 3, 2009

Who Built the Wall of Rock on Top of Stone Mountain?

As I blog about different historical and strange mysteries around Georgia, my readers send me emails full of information and materials about things they have heard over the years. Not too long ago, a local historian here in McDonough that I have befriended sent me an email with an attachment in it that included a news article from a Henry County newspaper that went out of business in 2002. The article was about a strange ring of rocks that once sat atop Stone Mountain.

Apparently, noone knows how the ring of rocks got there, and even Native American guides for white travelers in the early 1800s were unable to explain how the rocks got there. According to the article, the rocks were about four feet high, and at the base of one was a small gap that only person at a time could fit through.

It was speculated that the ring of large rocks could have been put there by Native Americans long ago, although an Indian guide for the Rev. Francis R. Goulding, a visitor to the area in 1822, commented that these rocks had been there since his people first came to the area and that men and women in his tribe knew no more about the rocks than whites did. The Indian guide speculated that it could have been used as a fort by some ancient tribe. However, other writers through the ages have disagreed with this assessment. It was pointed out by one person interviewed that the top of Stone Mountain would have been the worst place one could locate a fort since there was no water or access to food. Those that disagreed with the fort theory assume the ring of large rocks were used as a religious or ceremonial site. In 1951, one writer asserted that the ring was reminiscent of places Druids built for worship in Great Britain.

In 1830, The Macon Telegraph writers hypothesized that the ring of rocks could have been built by the Spanish as they explored the area under Hernando de Soto. Others disagree saying that the Spanish came through Georgia looking for gold, not building forts in the interiors of Georgia. Indeed there were Spanish missions and fortifications built in Georgia, but these were placed on the barrier islands, and by the early 1700s, they were gone and the Spanish no longer had much of a presence in Georgia. The Spanish would return to Georgia and aggressively pursue it once the English arrived under Oglethorpe and posed a direct threat to Spanish dominance in the region.

The article closes by saying that the rock wall was completely destroyed by sculptor Gutzon Borglum in 1923. I have been on top of Stone Mountain a few times in the last ten years, and I cannot remember any remnants of a wall visible at all. Borglum did a thorough job removing it. But what he did not remove was the questions of what the rock wall was and who put it there. Was it used as a fort, or was it a religious site? Could this have been Georgia's Native American version of Stonehenge?