Logo Letchworth-Love Mound
and Solar Timekeeping
The Mound
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The Letchwork-Love Mounds complex is located in Jefferson County, Florida, about seven miles west of Monticello. The primary mound is the tallest Native American ceremonial mound in Florida, and is believed to have been built 1100-1800 years ago. Its top platform is around 50 feet above the surrounding terrain, with a secondary platform of similar area at about half that height. Despite centuries of wear, it's still an impressive sight. Currently the area is under protection as a Florida State Park.

The mound possesses several notable features.
  • The rectangle enclosing the greater mound is approximately 90 meters north/south by 80 meters east/west (300' x 260').
  • The central mound is roughly a square pyramid about 50 meters (165') at the base, where it adjoins a lower area about 10 feet high.
  • Most of this exposed lower area is in the form of "wings" on the east and west sides of the central mound; the western wing is offset to the north, and the eastern one to the south by a similar amount.
  • On the south side is a secondary platform, with a surface approximately the same size as that of the platform on the central mound. This secondary platform is believed to be a relic from the second of three phases of construction on the site.
  • On the north side, there is a smooth slope all the way down from the top, leveling slightly toward the bottom, that resembles a ramp. The entire north slope is turned slightly east of north.
  • Finally, the upper part of the northeast corner, rather than being a single turn, is two smaller turns with a flattened area between them. This flattening extends to the top.
The top was probably originally a flat platform, but has eroded into a smoothly rounded flattened dome. There are several areas with indications that portions of the central mound have collapsed and flowed downhill; the southwest corner is one such.

There is a very old excavation pit on top of the central mound, clearly visible in ground imaging. It's a scar but it also provides a useful reference point for measurements since its position is relatively easy to locate, even from ground level.

Why this mound was built and how it was utilized is lost in the proverbial mists of time. Since many such constructions have been used in various cultures for the purpose of observing the yearly progression of the position of the Sun at sunrise and sunset in order to mark the seasons, it's reasonable to conjecture that the main mound at Letchworth may have been used as just such a solar calendar. In that spirit, I'm going to examine what the mound probably looked like when it was built, and from there try to determine if its inherent geometry would have lent itself to that function.
Photo of sloping mound side and bench
The smooth slope of the mound is easy to see in this photo, which also gives some sense of the size. This is the northwest corner, viewed from the north.
Topographic and Lidar map of the mound
A composite image comprising color-coded Lidar elevation, topographic contour lines, and a 10-meter grid centered on the infamous excavation pit on the top.
Graphic taken from INVESTIGATING MONUMENTAL ARCHITECTURE AT THE LETCHWORTH MOUNDS SITE (8JE337) (2013) by Daniel M. Seinfeld and Daniel P. Bigman, page 28.
Map of state park location
The site is located about seven miles west of Monticello. Florida, near Lake Miccosukee.

© 2024 Michael L. Wright