Chief Captain Moroni was an awe inspiring man!  Images of the Title of Liberty, of a sword and armor, of truth and justice, all come to mind, like a larger than life, ancient Marvel Super Hero!

Captain Moroni’s signature defense strategy was the hilltop defensive works with earthen walls, ditches and fences to protect his people.  Then he repeated those works all throughout the Promised Land.

The Title of Liberty by David Lindsley.
Available here:

Ancient Monuments of The Mississippi Valley

Comprising the Results of Extensive Original Surveys and Explorations.
By E. G. Squier, AM., and E. H. Davis, M.D.
Accepted for Publication by the Smithsonian Institution,
June 1847

This book is available from Amazon:
Or you can download a digital copy from:

Ephraim George Squier (1821-1888)
His first work of note was done in conjunction with Dr. Edward Hamilton Davis of Ohio, with whom he investigated the ancient mounds of the Mississippi Valley and published the results in the first volume of the “Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge.”

Ephraim Squier and The Book of Mormon?

It is easy to assume that Ephraim Squier had NOT read the Book of Mormon when he made his extensive survey of all the ancient earthworks in the eastern US in 1847.  He was completely unaware of Chief Captain Moroni, the legendary man responsible for the many hilltop fortifications that he faithfully documented in his book.

All of the following hilltop locations follow the pattern of high earthen berms and ditches or steep slopes with “places of entrance.”

Most of the images of these fortifications come from:

We visited Fort Ancient.  It is a fantastic place to visit and explore!  Joshua wrote a great review at

“Fort Ancient”, Warren County, OH

Stone Work aka “Spruce Hill”, Near Bourneville, Ross County, OH

“Fort Hill,” Highland County, OH

Fortified Hill, Butler County, OH

Dozens More
Explore Ephraim Squier’s book, or continue thru the TOC at ScienceView

What about Nauvoo, Illinois and Hoberg, Missouri?

On our most recent Mound Rover trip to Illinois, we had heard there were mounds north of Nauvoo and after a somewhat disappointing day decided to stop by and see what was there.  If you pass by the LDS Visitors Center and keep heading North out of town, you will take the road alongside the river, past Inspiration Point, for about a mile or so.
Google Map Location for the Nauvoo Mounds

What we found there was far more than expected!  Not just ancient burial mounds, but some very good new friends and an amazing “Chief Captain Moroni” hilltop fortification!

Wilson and Jennice Curlee are the property owners of this hill.  They “happened to be there” clearing brush when we pulled up to see the mounds.  After visiting a few minutes we all became fast friends and we spent the rest of the evening on a guided tour of the hill until it got too dark.  They invited us to their home for dinner and we were there visiting until after 10:30pm.  We came back the next morning and spent another 3 hours on the hill until our time ran out and we reluctantly had to leave.
Joshua overlaid Google satellite map over the LIDAR image from the Curlees.
There are 5 burial mounds visible in the upper middle of the image.

The dotted circles shows the outline of the hilltop fortification.
In the lower left corner you can see the “Place of Entrance” where a ramp was built up the side of the hill.

“Old Spanish Fort” near Hoberg, Missouri

A few weeks ago we found out that there is an ancient hilltop fortification right in our own neighborhood in the little town of Hoberg, Missouri, just a couple miles south of Mount Vernon, Missouri.

Google Map Location of Old Spanish Fort

Saturday, last week, we spent the morning walking around this place.  We followed the berm and ditch all the way around.  It is much smaller than any of the hilltops noted above, but it follows the exact same pattern, even with “places of entrance” at regular intervals that you can still plainly see.

The fort measures about 300 ft x 300 ft, area about 81.5K SqFt or 1.8 acres.

“Fort Ancient, believed to have been constructed by a group of eastward migrating Mound Builders, a band of Indians probably long antedating the Osages, on their way to what is now Ohio.  These earthworks are a small replica of the great Fort Ancient in Ohio where this prehistoric group reached its greatest culmination.  This tribe probably had its village in the valley and used these fortifications for defense.  First pioneers describe the walls as originally about 5 ft high and the moat 2 ft deep.”
Springfield University Club Historical Marker No. 16 Erected Oct. 1930.

“On the reverse side of the marker, possibly to placate the local folk, is inscribed: “Locally known as the Old Spanish Fort”. This refers to the fact that the site was formerly known as Spanish Fort, particularly by the local residents of the region.  It was designated Fort Ancient after a study of more than 40 years by Dr. E. M. Shepard, an archeologist and geologist.

Dr. Shepard had been employed by the State of Missouri to write about the geology of the district.  From his prolonged study, it seems probable that the Mound Builder Indians were the creators of Fort Ancient.  They were early Indians who fashioned burial mounds, fortifications and other earthworks found in the Middle West and Southeast.  The Lawrence County ruins are much smaller than, but otherwise almost identical with, the immense Fort Ancient (in Ohio) which was known to have been constructed by the Mound Builders.  The Ohio site was four miles in circumference compared to only a few hundred feet at Hoberg, but both were irregular circles with gateway openings and moats.  Early Missouri pioneers described the walls as about five feet high and the moat as two feet deep; however, it is believed that the original distance from the top of the wall to the bottom of the moat was at least 15 feet.”


Chief Captain Moroni left a lasting mark on this land.  His signature hilltop fortifications are scattered throughout the eastern US.  After 2000 years, they are still there and many of them you can actually visit and explore.  We call it Mound Roving!


  1. Wow!! You have put together a great presentation and lots of information on these sites, lidar and all! Makes us want to go visit some of these places! Thanks!


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