The Margate Shell Grotto Is a Mysterious Masterpiece

The Margate Shell Grotto is one particular of Kent, England’s finest cultural treasures. Some 4.6 million seashells line the walls of the subterranean passageway in ornate mosaics—but just as exciting as the craftsmanship on show is the mystery driving it. The grotto was uncovered accidentally in the 19th century, and to this working day no one particular understands who constructed it … or why.

In accordance to most accounts, farmer James Newlove and his son Joshua ended up digging a duck pond in 1835 when they struck on the underground cavern. A closer glance unveiled that they were not the first people to enter the room, as another person had gathered hundreds of thousands of shells from cockles, whelks, oysters, mussels, and other mollusks and glued them to the walls.

The shells adoring the winding tunnels variety intricate and colourful designs. Some are summary, even though some others are laid out in the styles of animals like birds and reptiles. The place by itself addresses 2000 sq. ft, with an altar area at just one end of the “serpentine passage” and an underground rotunda at the other.

A several a long time following stumbling on the grotto, James Newlove opened it to the public. Whilst the partitions could be radio-carbon dated, according to the Grotto’s website, “we have been encouraged by experts in this field that we would need to have to offer a quantity of samples (to mitigate against dating a Victorian—or later—repair) and the price is substantial.” The absence of radio-carbon dating and the reality that the land previously mentioned it has under no circumstances been element of a big estate make the origins of the website a secret. Industry experts never know specifically how it was built investigation of the mortar beneath the shells issue to a puzzling “fish-dependent” compound.

Some people today feel the masterpiece was designed by an historic civilization. The designs have been explained as searching vaguely Egyptian, Roman, Indian, and Phoenician. Other individuals credit groups like the mystics or the Templars. 1 feasible explanation is that the grotto was the challenge of an eccentric Victorian aristocrat. Follies—decorative buildings that provide no practical purpose—were a stylish way to flaunt prosperity during the Regency and Victorian eras. But the problem of why a person would make one thing so elaborate beneath vacant pastureland continues to be unanswered.

The Margate Shell Grotto nevertheless welcomes site visitors currently. For £4.50, or approximately $6.20 USD, you can tour the tunnels and see the nautical artwork up near. You may well go away the passage with far more inquiries than answers, but the mystery is component of the attraction.

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