Historical Marker #921 in Ashland's Central Park notes the location of a series of six ancient Native American mounds.
The Indian mounds constructed in what became Kentucky are believed to have been built by the Adena Culture, a prehistoric people who antedated the Native Americans that the first white explorers found upon their arrival to the region. The Adena Culture spans from approximately 500 B.C. to 100 A.D. It is possible, however, that mound building practices may have continued as late as 1400 A.D.
The mounds served as burial, ceremonial, and historical landmarks for the ancient people. The mounds developed when layers upon layers of deceased members of the group were buried atop one another over the years. Ceremonial items and tools often accompanied the deceased when buried.
A number of mounds were located along the Ohio River in northeastern Kentucky. At least sixteen were located where Ashland is today. An archaeological study conducted by the University of Kentucky in the 1930s mentioned that no city in the state contained more evidence of prehistoric occupation than Ashland. Unfortunately, over the years a number of Ashland's mounds have been leveled for development projects such as buildings and streets.
The surviving mounds in Central Park are each about twenty feet in diameter and about six feet high. Five of the mounds were constructed adjacent to each other and in a line. The other mound is slightly offset from the other five. The historical record indicates that these mounds were opened in the 1870s and were found to contain human remains.
Today, the mounds in Central Park serve as evidence that Native American people occupied and developed a culture in this region long before the first white settlers even discovered North America.