The Panther Intaglio is a panther-shaped prehistoric earthwork, dating to AD 1000. Just west of downtown Fort Atkinson, along the northern side of the Rock River, it is the last remaining intaglio in Wisconsin. It was discovered by Increase A. Lapham in 1850 and is one of only about a dozen intaglios recorded in the state. It was once part of a large effigy mound group that was destroyed by residential development.
The 125-foot intaglio is a scooped-out area in the form of a water spirit or panther about two feet deep. The excavation of this reverse image of a panther mound may be related to the fact that such water spirits were believed to originate in a watery realm below the surface of the earth. In 1919, the Fort Atkinson chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution leased the land to preserve the intaglio.
Intaglio is a term from art applied to burial mounds which refers to a design cut into a hard surface. In this case, the burial mounds have designs cut into the ground, though this term is broadly applied to burial mounds which are raised above the natural surface of the terrain. There are much more rare forms where they are left as indents below the natural terrain.
The area was designated as a historical landmark on the National Register in 1970 for its Prehistoric significance. There's a Wisconsin state historical marker at the site.