Midwestern Epigraphic Society A non-profit tax exempt organization [501.C(3)] under IRS Regulations
   Home  |   Officers  |   Membership  |  Library  |   Schedule  |   Trips  |   Inscriptions  |   Meetings  |   Archives  |   Shop

Ohio's Hocking County Written Rock

by Jim Leslie

The Hocking Hills are a secret treasure of the state of Ohio. Home to Ash Cave, Old Manís Cave, Cantwell Cliffs, Cedar Falls, numerous lesser caves, rock shelters and other formations, it attracts vacationers and nature lovers during every season of the year. Nestled here too is the Clear Creek Valley with some rare flora and fauna, and itís Written Rock, which ties this area back to some very ancient people. As the name applies, the rock has writing - ogam - as can be seen in the below picture from reference 1 and the 1986 MES tracing.

When Beverley Moseley worked at the Ohio Historical Society, he accompanied field archaeologist Robert Goslin on many of his outings to the Hills. One such time, Bob took Bev to Written Rock and remarked it had to be something other than polissoirs, or aboriginal polishing stones, as describe in reference 1. Some years later the Midwestern Epigraphic Society was formed and the club visited Written Rock several times under the guidance of Beverley to document the structure.

In 1995 MES memeber Victor Kachur translated the inscribed message on the rock to be Keltic as follows:
HM HMHLG HG BL FL
"Guard the observation of Irish/Hibernian Bel Festival"

In 2000, through a generous land donation followed by state purchases, the almost 5000 acres were incorporated into the Metro Park System, and named Clear Creek Metro Park. As seen in the below photograph both the ogam inscribe rock and the cliff wall of the rock shelter were covered in graffiti.


The story of Written Rock is destruction of valuable history by an uneducated public. The final insult has been the well-intended sandblasting graffiti removal, which removed most of the grooves too. MES visited again this year to examine the effects of sandblasting. Fortunately MES had documented it.

__________
1. James L. Murphy, An Archeological History of the Hocking Valley, Ohio University Press, 1941