Lake Winnipesaukee Mystery Stone
For its size New Hampshire seems to have a large number of mysteries and many of these are found in numerous writings online and offline. My family duties are keeping me close to home lately so lately I have been exploring online. One of my favorite topics is mystery stones. This mysterious stone egg caught my interest this morning so here is what I learned on my e-travels. When I do “hit the road” a visit to the Museum of New Hampshire History is well worth the time if you wish to see this unusual artifact and more. As you will see there many different theories about what this is. But one thing is certain, it is a beautiful work of art.
The mystery stone from Lake Winnipesaukee is an artifact, reported to have been found in 1872 while workers were digging a hole for a fence post. It is a carved stone about 4 inches (100 mm) long and 2.5 inches (64 mm) thick, dark and egg-shaped, bearing a variety of symbols. The stone’s age, purpose, and origin are unknown. Seneca Ladd, a Meredith businessman who hired the workers, was given credit for the discovery. Upon Ladd’s death in 1892, the stone passed to one of his daughters, who donated it to the New Hampshire Historical Society in 1927. The stone is currently on exhibit at the Museum of New Hampshire History.
Carvings on one side of the stone show an ear of corn and several other figures. The other side is more abstract, featuring inverted arrows, a moon shape, some dots and a spiral. There is a hole through the stone, bored from both ends with different size bits (1/8 inch at top and 3/8 inch at bottom).
A borescope analysis of the stone’s holes was performed in 1994. In a 2006 article by the Associated Press, state archaeologist Richard Boisvert suggested the holes were drilled by power tools from the 19th or 20th century. Boisvert reported, “I’ve seen a number of holes bored in stone with technology that you would associate with prehistoric North America. There’s a certain amount of unevenness … and this hole was extremely regular throughout. What we did not see was variations that would be consistent with something that was several hundred years old.” Scratches in the lower bore suggest it was placed on a metal shaft and removed several times. (Wikipedia)
So What is it?
The American Naturalist of November 1872 suggested the stone “commemorates a treaty between two tribes.” There have also been suggestions that the egg could be Celtic or Inuit in origin and in 1931 a letter was written to the New Hampshire Historical Society suggesting that it was a “thunderstone.” Also known as “thunderbolts” or “thunder axes,” a thunderstone is a worked stone object, often wedge-shaped like an axe blade, that is alleged to have fallen from the sky. Stories of thunderstones are found in cultures all over the world, and are often associated with a thunder god. The writer went on to say that such objects “always present the appearance of having been machine or hand-worked: frequently they come from deep in the earth, embedded in lumps of clay, or even surrounded by solid rock or coral.” (Ancient Origins)
Analysis has concluded the stone is a type of quartzite, derived from sandstone, or mylonite.
- “The Mystery Stone”. New Hampshire Historical Society. Retrieved October 1, 2010.
- Citro, Joseph A. (2005). Joe Citro’s weird New England : your travel guide to New England’s local legends and best kept secrets. Sterling Publishing. p. 33. ISBN 1402733305.
- Klatell, James M. (July 23, 2006). “New England’s ‘Mystery Stone’: New Hampshire Displays Unexplained Artifact 134 Years Later”. Associated Press. Retrieved October 1, 2010.
- BRYAN HILL Out of Place Artifact: The Mysterious Stone Egg of Lake Winnipesaukee, AUGUST, 2015 – 00:41
- “Lake Winnipesaukee Mystery Stone.” Lake Winnipesaukee Mystery Stone. http://theunexplainedmysteries.com/Lake_Winnipesaukee_mystery_stone.html
- “Lake Winnipesaukee Mystery Stone.” Atlas Obscura. http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/lake-winnipesaukee-mystery-stone
- Ocker’s, J.W. “Mystery Stone of Lake Winnipesaukee.” OTIS (Odd Things I’ve Seen):. June 6, 2011. http://www.oddthingsiveseen.com/2011/06/mystery-stone-of-lake-winnipesaukee.html
- “Carved Stone Still Mystifies Scholars.” Meta-Religion. July 19, 2006. http://www.meta-religion.com/Archaeology/Europe/other/carved_stone.htm
- Hurd, D. Hamilton. History of Merrimack and Belknap Counties, New Hampshire. Philadelphia: J.W. Lewis &, 1885