Sewee Shell Mound Interpretive Trail

The Sewee shell mound interpretive trail is a self-guided loop which will lead you to a 4,000-year old shell ring, an 800-year old clamshell mound, and through three plant communities. Sewee shell mound is one of the oldest, most northern shell rings in the United States. Rising 3-10 feet above the neighboring marshland, and about 225 feet across, the ring was built 4,000 years ago by the fishing and hunting Indians of Thom's Creek. The shell mound, or midden, was actually a mound of oyster shells once used by Prehistoric Native Americans in their daily life and for ceremonial purposes. Over time, the shells have broken down into a ring of rich soil, providing a special combination of native plants, and breathtaking views of salt marsh, tidal creeks, and the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.
(Source: US Forest Service)

The one-mile Interpretive Trail is an easy loop with two spurs to Native American historical sites. The trail begins as a shady, tree-lined path before moving into a swath of land that has been ravaged by the forces of nature. You will circle a freshwater marsh before joining a spur to the Sewee Shell Ring. Actually an ancient trash pile of oyster rings discarded by Native Americans, the ring is 4,000 years old and on the National Register of Historical Places. It’s the best preserved of a number of similar shell rings found along the East Coast. Another spur trail leads to a mound of discarded clamshells made by Native Americans on the shores of the Intracoastal Waterway. There are five interpretive stops and a 120-foot boardwalk overlooking the prehistoric shell ring.

Shell rings

Archaeologists debate whether shell rings developed incidentally from shells discarded around circular villages, or were intentionally built, perhaps for ceremonial purposes. Over the years archaeologists and others have proposed many uses for shell rings, including recreational ("gaming arenas"), ceremonial, "houses of state", astronomical observatories, religious, torture chambers, and fish traps. Many archaeologists believe that shell rings developed incidentally from shells discarded around circular villages of egalitarian hunter-gatherers. Supporting the assessment that the shell ring builders were egalitarian is the absence of prestige artifacts or burials associated with the rings.
(source: Wikipedia)

Sewee history: