Wisconsin has the highest concentration of burial mounds in the U.S. and Madison is home to many of the most-intact mounds remaining today.
Scientifically, effigy mounds represent some of the last remaining physical evidence of human activity from 800 B.C.E. to 1200 C.E. The people who built the mounds are believed to be ancestors of the Ho-Chunk Nation. Culturally, archeologists aren’t certain of the exact meaning of the mounds, but they are recognized as sacred spaces and protected under the Wisconsin Burial Site Protection Act. (Though, that’s not to say they’ve always been protected.)
Many effigy mounds were often built in the shape of animals like bears, panthers, birds, and turtles. Man Mound in Sauk County is the only known human-shaped effigy mound left in North America.
Where to See the Mounds
Respecting the Mounds
When visiting the mounds it’s important to remember that these sites demand respect. It is inappropriate to walk or climb on the mounds.