At one time or another, most of us have probably dug a hole in our yard.
We might’ve just been playing around as kids, or perhaps we were burying a time capsule or a dearly departed furry fried. Usually, we only come across dirt when we’re digging, but when one 19th-century laborer was digging a trench on a local farm, he made a very interesting discovery.
While the man was working away at his trench on a farm in Kent, England, his shovel was suddenly swallowed up by the ground.
He told many people of his shovel’s bizarre fate, and eventually the tale made its way to local schoolmaster Jason Newlove.
Newlove investigated the area and realized that the land below the farm was hollow. To look into the matter further, he tied a length of rope around his young son Joshua and lowered him down into the abyss through a hole.
Upon his return to the surface, little Joshua told an elaborate story about a temple-like cavern that he saw. He mentioned that the entire thing was covered in seashells.
Newlove knew that this underground grotto was something special, so he set out to make the site a tourist attraction. Soon, the Shell Grotto was born. The Grotto opened its doors to the public in 1838 and has been a popular destination ever since.
The cavern is just 104 feet long, but it boasts over 4.6 million shells. They cover nearly 2,000 square feet of wall and ceiling space.
Most of the shells are arranged in elaborate designs like the one below.
In 2008, a restoration group called the Friends of the Shell Grotto was established to help preserve this incredible place for many years to come.
To this day, no one knows who made the Shell Grotto or when exactly it was built.
Some people believe that the Grotto was a temple, while others think it was a secret meeting place. It’s likely that the world will never know what it truly was.