In 1835 a laborer was digging a field just outside the English seaside town of Margate when his his spade vanished in to the ground as he broke into an underground structure that no one had previously known about. A boy, the son of a schoolteacher, was lowered into the hole with a candle and described a beautiful passageway decorated intriguingly with tens of thousands of shells.
In the years hence, the Margate Shell Grotto has become a famed local tourist attraction, but the debate rages about who built the thing in the first place. As shell grottos were very popular in the 1700’s, it is assumed that it when it was built, but no one has any idea who built it or how it was kept a secret (or at least lost to time).
Most recently, it has been suggested that the grotto may be far older than it was initially thought, possibly being constructed in the 1100’s by the Knights Templar, but the owner of the cave will not allow carbon dating of the shells for a variety of reasons, the utmost being the damage taking samples could do to the site.
Until then, we shall have to be content with our imaginations.
A replica of what the grotto may have looked like before the shells were bleached by time.
Vandalism inside the cave.