Monks Mound is the largest prehistoric earthwork in the Americas. It covers an area of 14 acres and rises to an amazing height of 100 feet. It contains 22 million cubic feet of earth. Earth for the project was taken from the nearby borrow pits by the use of large baskets. Each basket was estimated between 50 and 60 pounds.
Constructions started around 950 A.D. There may have been as many as fourteen separate construction phases over a period of 300 years. There are four terraces that can be seen today. The first terrace had a small mound and building on the southwest corner. The second terrace is higher and to the west. The third and fourth terraces form the mounds summit.
The prehistoric steps were at the same location of the steps that are in place today.
Monks Mound has been cultivated and served as the site of two farms within the last 150 years. The mound has suffered greatly from erosion and slumping, but is believed to still be an accurate picture of its prehistoric appearance.
The mound was named Monks Mound due to historical documents from the 1700's suggesting that French priests had built a chapel on the west corner. Excavations have found artifacts dating to this time which seem to support this idea. The monks lived on Mound 48 but never built the intended monastary on Monks Mound. Due to illness and other problems they returned to France. Later, the name Monks Mound continued to be used to identify the giant mound.