Lower Shawneetown

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Lower Shawneetown
15 GP 15
Lower Shawneetown Shannoah historical marker HRoe.jpg
Bronze historical marker near site
Lower Shawneetown15 GP 15 is located in Kentucky
Lower Shawneetown15 GP 15
Lower Shawneetown
15 GP 15
Approximate location within Kentucky today
Coordinates 38°43′17.76″N 83°1′22.98″W / 38.7216000°N 83.0230500°W / 38.7216000; -83.0230500
Country  USA
Region Greenup County, Kentucky
Nearest town South Portsmouth, Kentucky
Culture Fort Ancient culture, Shawnee people
Period Madisonville horizon, protohistoric
Number of monuments
Lower Shawneetown
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 83002784[1]
Added to NRHP April 28, 1983

Lower Shawneetown (15Gp15), also known as the Bentley Site, Shannoah and Sonnontio, is a Late Fort Ancient culture Madisonville horizon (post 1400 CE) archaeological site overlain by an 18th-century Shawnee village; it is located near South Portsmouth in Greenup County, Kentucky.[2] It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on April 28, 1983.[1]

Portsmouth Earthworks, Group A[edit]

A feature of the site is the "Old Fort Earthworks", a part of the Portsmouth Earthworks known as Group A. Built between 100 BCE and 500 CE by the Adena culture, the earthworks are a series of large rectangular enclosures connected to the main features of the group (located across the Ohio River in Portsmouth) by an earthen causeway.[3]

Fort Ancient settlement[edit]

The site is a 1.2 hectare village on the second flood terrace of the Ohio River, located across from the mouth of the Scioto River. It was excavated in the 1930s and was discovered to have had similar structures and building techniques as those found at another nearby Fort Ancient site, the Hardin Village Site located 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) up the Ohio. Also found during the excavations were distinctive Madisonville horizon pottery, including cordmarked, plain and grooved-paddle jars, as well as a variety of chert points, scrapers and native pipes.[2] Many European trade goods were also found at the site, including firearms parts, pieces of cooking kettles and pieces of pair of iron scissors.[2]

Shawnee village[edit]

Located at the mouth of the Scioto River, this was one of the earliest known Shawnee settlements on both sides of the Ohio River.[4] Although mainly a Shawnee village, the population included contingents of Iroquois and Lenape, and a few British and French traders. It was established in the 1730s and was a major village until 1758.[2]

One account from 1750 described it as a community of 300 men, indicating a total population of around 1,200.[5] The town consisted of 40 houses on the Kentucky side and 100 houses on the Ohio side, including a 90 feet (27 m) long council house.[4] In the summer of 1749 Pierre Joseph Céloron de Blainville moved down the Ohio River on his "Lead plate expedition," burying lead plates at locations where major tributaries entered the Ohio. The plates were inscribed to claim the area for France. He stopped at Lower Shawneetown, where he demanded that the British traders leave, although most refused to do so.[6] In January 1751 the British traders Christopher Gist, George Croghan, Andrew Montour, and Robert Kallendar recorded their visit to the village.[7] The town was a key center in dealings with other tribes and with Europeans before it was abandoned in 1758.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-11-02. 
  2. ^ a b c d Sharp, William E. (1996). "Chapter 6:Fort Ancient Farmers". In Lewis, R. Barry. Kentucky Archaeology. University Press of Kentucky. pp. 170–176. ISBN 0-8131-1907-3. 
  3. ^ "Portsmouth Earthworks". Ohio History Central. Retrieved 2009-06-06. 
  4. ^ a b Foster, Emily (2000-08-24). The Ohio Frontier: An Anthology of Early Writings. The University Press of Kentucky. p. 13. ISBN 978-0-8131-0979-4. 
  5. ^ Calloway, Colin (2007). The Shawnees and the War for America. New York: Viking. p. 13. ISBN 978-0-670-03862-6. 
  6. ^ "Celeron de Bienville". Ohio History Central. Ohio Historical Society. Retrieved 2010-11-03. 
  7. ^ "Greenup County, Kentucky:Roadside Historical Markers". Retrieved 2010-11-02. 
  8. ^ Calloway, Colin (2007). The Shawnees and the War for America. New York: Viking. p. 14. ISBN 978-0-670-03862-6.