Photographer's Note

This is a detail of the wonderful Shell Grotto in Margate.

Please see the other view of the Shell Grotto in Workshop,
(it is not the best quality, but l hope you like it).


The Shell Grotto is an ornate subterranean passageway in Margate, Kent. Almost all the surface area of the walls and roof is covered in mosaics created entirely of seashells, totalling about 190 sq metres of mosaic, or 4.6 million shells. It was discovered in 1835 but its age remains unknown. The grotto is a Grade I listed building and is open to the public.

The Shell Grotto consists of a winding subterranean passageway, about 2.4 metres high and 21 metres in length, terminating in a rectangular room (the altar chamber) approximately 5 x 6 metres. Close to its half way point, the passageway divides to pass around a massive circular column called the rotunda. Attached to the grotto is a museum, gift shop, and cafe.

The purpose of the structure is unknown, and various theories have dated its construction to any time in the past 3,000 years, and speculated possibilities of the builders include the Knights Templar. The shells are all local; but some of the designs suggest associations with Phoenicia, and it has been speculated that the name of the Isle of Thanet, where Margate lies, may derive from the Phoenician goddess Tanit. The official guide suggests a subject for many of the mosaic panels, such as a skeleton, crocodile, owl, or turtle, but the abstract nature of the designs make these suggestions rather subjective.


Photo Information
  • Copyright: Agnes Horvath (miumiu) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 756 W: 2 N: 562] (6117)
  • Genre: Places
  • Medium: Color
  • Date Taken: 2013-12-14
  • Categories: Artwork
  • Exposure: f/3.3, 1/12 seconds
  • More Photo Info: view
  • Photo Version: Original Version, Workshop
  • Date Submitted: 2014-08-01 1:44
Viewed: 1428
Points: 28
  • None
Additional Photos by Agnes Horvath (miumiu) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 756 W: 2 N: 562] (6117)
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