In 1872, workers installing a fence near Lake Winnipesaukee in New England discovered a lump of clay six feet underground that contained an egg-shaped artifact. This artifact, known as the Mysterious Stone, is one of New Hampshire’s lesser-known but intriguing relics. For more than a century, amateur and professional archaeologists have speculated about the origins of this peculiar artifact, but no definitive answers have been found.
The type of stone from which the artifact is made is not native to New Hampshire, and no other objects with similar markings or designs have been found in the United States. The intricate craftsmanship suggests that it may have been made by someone from a distant place and time, as nothing similar has been seen in the work of local Native American tribes.
Description of the mystery stone
The stone egg is about four inches (10.2 cm) long and 2.5 inches (6.4 cm) thick, weighs eighteen ounces (510.3 grams) and has a dark hue. Hard as granite, it closely resembles a goose egg in size and shape.
The stone is a variant of quartzite, derived from sandstone or mylonite, a fine-grained rock formed by shifting layers of rock along faults. Holes were drilled in both ends of the stone, drilled from end to end with tools of different sizes, and the surface was polished.
In addition to the unusual construction and design, the stone is decorated with peculiar carvings that include astronomical symbols and a human face. One side depicts inverted arrows, a dotted moon, and a spiral. The other side depicts an ear of corn with 17 grains. On the underside there is a circle with three figures, one resembling a deer leg and the other resembling an eared animal. The “third” side shows a tipi with four staves, an oval, and a human face. The face is recessed, with the nose not protruding beyond the surface of the egg, and the lips, which seem to give a meaningful expression.
The Story of the Mysterious Stone
The artifact was discovered by workers hired by local businessman Seneca A. Ladd. After its initial discovery, American Naturalist magazine called it “a remarkable Native American relic.” Records and newspaper articles show that Seneca Ladd owned the “egg” by 1872, and it was significant enough to be included in the county history book by 1885. After Ladd’s death in 1892, one of his daughters, Frances Ladd Coe, donated the stone to the New Hampshire Historical Society in Concord in 1927. There it was classified separately from Native American artifacts from the 1800s and items of contemporary interest.
Hypotheses about the stone’s origin
Historians have tried for years to figure out the purpose of the stone, but have never received a definite answer. The earliest interpretations began with the simplest hypothesis. In November 1872, an American naturalist suggested that the stone was “a reminder of an agreement between two tribes.” This theory, however, did not last long and was later replaced by the assumption that the stone was an ancient instrument.
One of the most likely hypotheses is that the stone was created by Native Americans as a birthstone. Birthstones are important objects in many Native cultures. They are associated with spiritual practices, rituals, and beliefs. A birthstone can be used to help a person find their place in life and stay in harmony with nature.
However, despite all the hypotheses, the origin of the mysterious stone remains a mystery. Some researchers argue that it may be proof that our history is not as simple as it seems. Maybe we don’t know all the answers yet.