Folks visit Sea Pines Plantation to see 4,000-year-old shell ring

Folks visit Sea Pines Plantation to see 4,000-year-old shell ring

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC (WTOC) - Tucked inside the Sea Pines Forest Preserve is a mound of shells that stretches around 150 feet in a circle. The ancient shell ring dates back thousands of years.   

"At 4,000 years old, it dates back to the pyramids in Egypt and its really phenomenal if you think about what it means. While it seems like a long time, in the big scheme of things it's not," said David Henderson, a wildlife biologist at Sea Pines Plantation.

The shell ring was created by different, nomadic, native-American tribes that met on Hilton Head Island for food and resources as part of their journeys. It is now covered dirt, but was made from oyster shells that were harvested on a long forgotten tributary. Vacationers and residents visit the ring and many try to guess why it was created.

"They think that there are spirits or hauntings, and maybe that's false belief that it's an old burial ground, but no one really knows why they built it," said Henderson.

Henderson said what's more likely is that it was used as a place for recreation and trade.  Archaeologists who did a study about 50 years ago said that no one had been there for about 3,500 years.

Archaeologists believe the tribes that built the ring had left the region and not returned.

"I think it's really cool for 4,000 years after they made it because it was really important to them and I think that's really cool," says Alyssa Springer, visiting from Oregon.

If you'd like to see the shell ring, it is open to the public, however, there is a $5 charge to get into the Sea Pines Resort. The shell ring is one of two sites inside Sea Pines on the National Historic Register. The other is the Stoney Baynard Ruins, which was a plantation on Hilton Head Island.

Copyright 2012 WTOC. All rights reserved.