Fort Mountain's Mysterious Wall

from the Native American Tour in
Touring the Backroads of North and South Georgia

This tour begins at Fort Mountain State Park, which is 7 miles east of Chatsworth off GA 52.

The Mountain's name is derived from the mysterious rock wall snaking along its summit. The wall, extending 885 feet and seven feet in height at its tallest point, is a mystery whose builder and purpose has been lost in the mists of time. Up to 12 feet wide, with 29 pits scattered at regular intervals along its length, the wall is without peer in southeastern archaeology, leading to wide ranging speculation about who built it when and why.

The ancient fortification long predated the Cherokees who were living here in the 1700s. One theory on the walls origin comes from a letter by John Sevier, a Revolutionary War hero and the first governor of Tennessee. The letter, a copy of which is on file at the Georgia Historical Commission, recounts a 1782 conversation Sevier had with then 90-year-old Oconosoto, a Cherokee chief. He told Sevier that the tribal tradition, "they were a people called Welsh and they had crossed the Great Water." He called their leader "Modok." If true, this fits with the known history of 12th century Welsh Prince Madoc.

In 1170, Owain Gwynedd died leaving his kingdom to his seven sons, one of whom is alternately recorded as Madoc and Madog in Welsh records. The sons were to fight to determine who would rule their father's lands. Madoc chose a different path outfitting a fleet of either three or thirteen ships depending on your source. They set sail across the Atlantic, eventually making landfall at Mobile Bay in present-day Alabama. Madoc is said to have later returned to the current Welsh port of Madoc to get more colonists. After this visit to Wales, neither Madoc nor his followers were heard of again.

According to legend, the Welsh colonists were pushed northward by Indian attacks, eventually reaching Northwest Georgia. This theory states that Fort Mountain's rock wall was built by the Welsh to defend themselves against Indian attack. The wall was apparently unsuccessful, and the colonists were pushed westward, where they settled on the Missouri River. It is here that a group of Indians, known as Madog, were later encountered by Welshman, who said he could converse with his light-eyed captors. The story of Madoc, while appealing, is impossible to verify beyond Sevier's letter.

The Cherokee's called the wall-builders "moon-eyed people," because they could see better at night than by day. These moon-eyed people were said to have fair skin, blonde hair and blue eyes. Some other theorists believe that these moon-eyed people built the wall as a part of sun worship, while others believe it was used in athletic games. Some of the other thoughts pushed from time to time are that Hernando de Soto, who spent two peaceful weeks here in 1540 built it or that the Cherokees created the wall to defend themselves against Creek attackers. With no definitive proof likely to be found, the low rock wall is likely to continue to be shrouded in a mystery deeper than the fog that often blankets the mountain.

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