A Project of the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art
History of Early American Landscape Design

William Bartram

[http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/research/casva/research-projects.html A Project of the National Gallery of Art, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts ]
Revision as of 22:57, November 12, 2014 by C-tompkins (talk | contribs) (→‎Texts)




Fig. 1, William Bartram, A great mound and its avenues, at Mount Royal, near Lake George, Georgia, in “Observations on the Creek and Cherokee Indians” (1789), from Transactions of the American Ethnological Society. Vol. 3, part 1 (1853), p. 57, fig. 6.
  • 1789, describing Indian settlements in North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida (1853: 57-58) [1]
“In the Cherokee country, all over Carolina, and the Northern and Eastern parts of Georgia, wherever the ruins of ancient Indian towns appear, we see always beside these remains one vast, conical-pointed mound. To mounds of the kind I refer when I speak of pyramidal mounds. To the south and west of the Altamaha, I observed none of these in any part of the Muscogulge country, but always flat or square structures. The vast mounds upon the St. John’s, Alachua, and Musquito rivers, differ from those amongst the Cherokee with respect to their adjuncts and appendages, particularly in respect to the great highway or avenue, sunk below the common level of the earth, extending from them, and terminating either in a vast savanna or natural plain, or an artificial pond or lake. A remarkable example occurs at Mount Royal, from whence opens a glorious view of Lake George and its environs.
“Fig. 6 is a perspective plan of this great mound and its avenues, the latter leading off to an expansive savanna or natural meadow. A, the mound, about forty feet in perpendicular height; B, the highway leading from the mound in a straight line to the pond C, about a half a mile distant. . . . The sketch of the mound also illustrates the character of the mounds in the Cherokee country; but the last have not the highway or avenue, and are always accompanied by vast square terraces, placed upon one side or the other. On the other hand, we never see the square terraces accompanying the high mounds of East Florida.” [Fig. 1]

  • 1791, describing the area north of Wrightsborough, Ga. (1928: 56–57) [2]
“many very magnificent monuments of the power and industry of the ancient inhabitants of these lands are visible. I observed a stupendous conical pyramid, or artificial mount of earth, vast tetragon terraces, and a large sunken area, of a cubical form, encompassed with banks of earth; and certain traces of a larger Indian town, the work of a powerful nation, whose period of grandeur perhaps long preceded the discovery of this continent. . . .
“old Indian settlements, now deserted and overgrown with forests. These are always on or near the banks of rivers, or great swamps, the artificial mounts and terraces elevating them above the surrounding groves.”

  • 1791, describing St. Simon’s Island, Ga. (1928: 72–73) [2]
“This delightful habitation was situated in the midst of a spacious grove of Live Oaks and Palms, near the strand of the bay, commanding a view of the inlet. A cool area surrounded the low but convenient buildings, from whence, through the groves, was a spacious avenue into the island, terminated by a large savanna. . . .
“Our rural table was spread under the shadow of Oaks, Palms, and Sweet Bays, fanned by the lively salubrious breezes wafted from the spicy groves. Our music was the responsive love-lays of the painted nonpareil, and the alert and gay mock-bird; whilst the brilliant humming-bird darted through the flowery groves, suspended in air, and drank nectar from the flowers of the yellow Jasmine, Lonicera, Andromeda, and sweet Azalea.”

  • 1791, describing Marshall Plantation, on the San Juan River, Fla. (1928: 84) [2]
“The house was situated on an eminence, about one hundred and fifty yards from the river. . . . On the other side was a spacious garden, occupying a regular slope of ground down to the water; and a pleasant lawn lay between.”

  • 1791, describing an Indian village in Florida (1928: 96) [2]
“There was a large Orange grove at the upper end of their village; the trees were large, carefully pruned, and the ground under them clean, open, and airy.”

  • 1791, describing Lake George, Ga. (1928: 101, 104) [2]
“From this place we enjoyed a most enchanting prospect of the great Lake George, through a grand avenue, if I may so term this narrow reach of the river, which widens gradually for about two miles, towards its entrance into the lake, so as to elude the exact rules of perspective, and appears of an equal width. . . .
“On the site of this ancient town, stands a very pompous Indian mount, or conical pyramid of earth, from which runs in a straight line a grand avenue or Indian highway, through a magnificent grove of magnolias, live oaks, palms, and orange trees, terminating at the verge of a large green level savanna.”

  • 1791, describing Lake George, Ga., and settlements of the Muscogulge and Cherokee Indians (1928: 101–2, 407) [2]
“At about fifty yards distance from the landing place, stands a magnificent Indian mount. . . . But what greatly contributed towards completing the magnificence of the scene, was a noble Indian highway, which led from the great mount, on a straight line, three quarters of a mile, first through a point or wing of the orange grove, and continuing thence through an awful forest of live oaks, it was terminated by palms and laurel magnolias, on the verge of an oblong artificial lake, which was on the edge of an extensive green level savanna. . . .The glittering water pond played on the sight, through the dark grove, like a brilliant diamond, on the bosom of the illumined savanna, bordered with various flowery shrubs and plants. . . .
“From the river St. Juans, Southerly, to the point of the peninsula of Florida, are to be seen high pyramidal mounts with spacious and extensive avenues, leading from them out of the town, to an artificial lake or pond of water; these were evidently designed in part for ornament or monuments of magnificence, to perpetuate the power and grandeur of the nation.”




  1. Bartram, William. 1853. “Observations on the Creek and Cherokee Indians, 1789, with Prefatory and Supplementary Notes by E.G. Squier.” Transactions of the American Ethnological Society 3: 1–81. view on Zotero
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Bartram, William. 1928. Travels through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida. Edited by Mark Van Doren. New York: Dover. view on Zotero

Retrieved from "https://heald.nga.gov/mediawiki/index.php?title=William_Bartram&oldid=4976"

History of Early American Landscape Design contributors, "William Bartram," History of Early American Landscape Design, , https://heald.nga.gov/mediawiki/index.php?title=William_Bartram&oldid=4976 (accessed October 2, 2023).

A Project of the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts

National Gallery of Art, Washington