Just an hour outside Nashville is a hidden gem rich in spiritual mystique. Old Stone Fort is a living relic of Native American history, and a place of great importance to native during the Middle Woodland Period. The state park is situated on a plateau where the Little Duck and Big Duck rivers converge, and has trails that give easy access to the walls and cascading waterfalls throughout the area.
Old Stone Fort was named by 18th century settlers who mistakenly thought the area was a defensive structure. Construction on the site began around 80 BCE and was built around the same time as Fort Ancient in Ohio and the Pinson Mounds in west Tennessee. Four to six foot walls outline the plateau with two parallel “entrance mounds” which align with the Summer Solstice. It is believed the site had astronomical and ceremonial significance. One of the most well known artifacts found at the site was an eagle effigy pipe.
Prior to archeological digs in the 1960s, many curious tales circulated about happenings in Old Stone Fort. There were rumors that iron slag, Roman coins, and even rune stones were discovered there, though physical evidence never surfaced. The site has even been linked to Prince Maddoc and Fort Mountain in Georgia, with theories that suggested that the Welsh prince made it to North America, building settlements along their adventures. Author Zella Armstrong of the book Who Discovered America? speculates that Old Stone Fort’s structures resemble Welsh ones, though there is no definitive proof of this being the case. There have even been paranormal stories woven into the tales of Old Stone Fort. One from the 1870s tells of a group of hunters who were spooked by terrible appearance and sounds of ghosts taking the shape of women and lions. It however seems that the ghosts were actually a prank pulled off by locals who were unhappy about having outsiders hunt on their land.
During the industrialization of Appalachia in the 19th century many newspapers reported the discovery giant skeletons. Some of the articles include photographs of the large skeletons, although none of the skeletons are available to us now, and surely every skeptic has debunked these articles as sensationalist and hoaxed. Regardless of the authenticity of the giant skeletons, Old Stone Fort was purportedly one location for one of these so called skeletons. The story goes that there was a group of people using a boat on the rivers that surround Old Stone Fort, and while on the river discovered a cave and decided to explore it. It was in this cave that they found the remains of a giant skeleton, with an arm bone twenty inches in length.
The only issue is this: I cannot get my hands on the original newspaper article that cites Old Stone Fort as the location. All I can find are second hand sources that include fascinating blog entries and an episode of a short-lived television (and widely disliked and criticized) show called Search For The Lost Giants. I revisited the Old Stone Fort visitor center to go through the books on their shelves in hopes of finding information. When I came short I asked the lady at the desk and was disappointed with her response. I asked “Have you got any information on the legends of giants in the region?” She did not speak, only shaking her head. “Do you have any recommendations on where I could possibly find clippings of newspaper articles?” Again, just a shake of the head. Obviously, I was a nuisance so I left and took to the trails.
The stories are just a minor part of the pleasure in visiting Old Stone Fort. According to Frank Joseph in his book Sacred Sites, Old Stone Fort has powerful energy, with the two entrance mounds acting like a psychic battery of positive and negative terminals. He believes that “the visitor with a pure heart and free mind should listen for the energy-echoes of the Ancient Ones, where the naturally magic ground has been additionally charged by four centuries of ritual activity.”
Although my exploration for giants at Old Stone Fort fell short these last couple of trips, I was still grateful to visit and admire a sacred site so closely. Go for the trails, waterfalls, and the archeology. Pay reverence to the Native Americans who worshipped at the site thousands of years ago and meditate in the ceremonial space. Visit Old Stone Fort knowing that you roam trails and mounds that contain ancient and sacred energy that inspired many captivating stories.