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Lilbourn Fortified Village, New Madrid, Missouri Mound Complex, Village, & Earthworks • Mississippian

By Dr. Greg Little

Portions of this article come from The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Native American Mounds & Earthworks.

Lilbourn was a major Mississippian ceremonial center, which contained at least 10 mounds, several plazas, village housing areas and was enclosed by a huge earthwork supporting a palisade wall. The site is now part of “Mound Cemetery” located next to New Madrid County High School at the Junction of Highway 61 and Interstate 55—at the New Madrid/Howardville exit off the Interstate. It is very accessible. When the high school was built in the 1970’s it obliterated a large part of the site but extensive archaeological excavations were done prior to the construction. Three mounds remain at the site including a platform mound 21-feet high with a base of 270 by 210 feet. A smaller platform mound close to larger one is about 7-feet high. The site is used as a cemetery and after rain the ground surface is littered with pottery shards, stone chips and flakes, points and broken pieces, and occasionally human bones. The area in front of the high school was found to be densely packed with houses. A mound, which was located behind the high school, was totally excavated in the 1970s and was then shaped in the form of a long-handled mace. Several elaborate burials were found inside the mound including a male who was buried face up in the most important area of the mound. On the man’s chest, a single stone-polished ceremonial mace (an ax) was found. The mound was in the same shape as the mace. It is on display in the County Museum in downtown New Madrid, located a couple miles away. The area where that mound stood is now by the football field and is a wastewater lagoon. New Madrid County has over 200 mounds, many of which are on private farmland—but one other large platform mound is also nearby, located just inside the New Madrid town lines, on the bank of the Mississippi River at an agricultural barge loading facility.


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Wednesday, December 01, 2021