Step Into the Center of a Village Dating Back to 1135 AD

Greens Shell Enclosure Heritage Preserve-Hilton Head Island

“The 3-acre Greens Shell Enclosure Heritage Preserve is an archaeological site dating back to 1335 A.D. In 1991, the preserve was purchased with funds from the Heritage Trust Program and a grant from the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism. Today the preserve is managed by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, The Town of Hilton Head Island and the Environmental and Historical Museum of Hilton Head Island. The preserve is a passive park focusing on archaeological features.

Cultural History
Greens Shell Enclosure, a low earthen embankment, is two to six feet high, and 30-feet wide at the base. During the Irene period, 1300 to 1450 A.D., this two-acre shell and the earthen embankment was a fortified village with defensive features like enclosures, Palisades and ditches.

The Native American inhabitants of Greens Shell Enclosure were farmers who lived in large villages. They used the shell to make gorgets, masks, beads and for religious rituals. The inhabitants used whelk and conch shells to drink “Black Drink.”

Their ritual beverage, “Black Drink,” was made from the plant Ilex vomitoria, more commonly known as Cassina, which still grows on the preserve.

Not only did these villagers make items from shells for personal use, but these popular shell products were also traded far into the interior of the eastern United States.

Information provided by The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

The shell ring is located in a small community park on the north side of Hilton Head Island.  The trail begins at the entrance of the Amelia White Historic Gullah Cemetery.

There is a deck to stand on and view the ancient mound. Visitors are not allowed to walk on the grounds where the artifacts were found.

Part of a shell ring is on the left side of the walkway.

The trail continues past the preserved site and ends at Skull Creek.

The park is accommodating to visitors with a picnic area, play area, parking and restrooms.

Happy Travels- To visit this unique site exit SC #8 off of Interstate 95.  Take US 278 East and continue over the bridge onto Hilton Head Island.  Turn left on to Squire Pope Road and the park will be on your left.

Bring the insect repellent, mosquitos and gnats will greet you.



4 thoughts

  1. Thank’s for the story here. What I’ve noticed is that it is hard to visualize that a village once was here. It looks like just a mound of covered dirt. I would never know that something Historic was there. Guess I’d leave that up to people who know.

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