Back in 1872, so the story goes, workers that were digging a hole for a fence post near Lake Winnipesaukee, in the central part of this New England state, found a lump of clay that seemed out of place.
There was something inside- an egg shaped artifact was discovered six feet below the ground.
It was a dark, odd-looking, egg-shaped stone with a variety of carvings, including a face, teepee, ear of corn and starlike circles.Called the ‘Mystery Stone’, it is one of New Hampshire’s more curious and lesser known relics.
Description of the Mysterious Stone
The mystery stone egg is approximately 4 inches (10.2cms) long, 2 1/2 inches (6.4cms) thick, weights eighteen ounces (510.3grams) and has a dark-hue to it.
Another curious detail is that there are holes bored in both ends of the stone. According to an analysis done by state officials in 1994, each bore is straight, not tapered and scratches in the lower bore suggest it was placed on a metal shaft and removed several times.
“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,” said Richard Boisvert, state archaeologist.
In the analysis there are comments from geologist Eugene Boudette, who concluded that the stone is a type of quartzite, derived from sandstone, or mylonite, a fine-grained, laminated rock formed by the shifting of rock layers along faults.
Besides the strange construction and design, what makes the stone even more interesting are bizarre carvings ranging from astronomical symbols to a human face along its smooth egg faced sides.
On one side, the cravings seem to be inverted arrows, a moon with some dots and a spiral, and the other side has an ear of corn with seventeen kernels in the row.
The “third” side shows a tepee with four poles, an oval and a human face which is sunken with a nose that does not rise above the surface of the egg with lips that seem to give the image some kind of purposeful expression.
History of the Lake Winnipesaukee Stone Egg
Seneca A. Ladd, a local businessman who hired the workers, was credited with the discovery of the stone egg.
When the mysterious stone egg was first unveiled to the world, the American Naturalist journal described it as “a remarkable Indian relic.” According to documents and newspaper articles, by 1872 Seneca Ladd had the “egg” in his possession and by 1885, it was notable enough to be reported in the county history book.
Seneca A. Ladd
An article in The American Naturalist said: ‘As Mr. Ladd is quite a naturalist, and has already an extensive private collection of relics and specimens, he was delighted with the new discovery, and exhibited and explained the really remarkable relic with an enthusiasm which only the genuine student can feel’.
Ladd died in 1892, and in 1927, one of his daughters, Frances Ladd Coe of Center Harbor, donated the stone to the New Hampshire Historical Society in the state capital of Concord.
There the stone egg was separated from the Native American 1800’s-era cultural artifacts and items of modern day interest. The stone, which is surrounded by mirrors showing off its symbols, is on display at the Museum of New Hampshire History, where it was last exhibited in 1996.
Controversial Theories on the Origin of The Stone Egg
To date, amateur and professional archaeologists have speculated about the origin of this strange artifact and no one has been able to say for sure about the origin of the ‘Mystery Stone’.
It is possible that the egg has Celtic or Inuit 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 many cultures and are often associated with a thunder god. The writer in the letter 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 .”
Since the rock type is not familiar to New Hampshire and there are no other known objects bearing similar markings or design in the United States, it is supposed that it may have been the work of someone living in a faraway place and time.
These hypotheses have failed to impress the masses, and so skeptics on both sides gathered for deeper analysis in the late 20th century.
A recent analysis suggested that the hole through the stone was too precise to have been crafted by ancient peoples so it must be a hoax.
However, what can be said for certain is an unknown craftsman, likely in the mid to late 1800s, carved this strange egg shaped object, and that is has been a source fascination since.
Today, you can visit the New Hampshire Historical Society to see the stone for yourself and decide in what you will believe.