Mystery Stone of Lake Winnipesaukee

June 6, 2011 – I don’t think I’ve ever seen an artifact in a museum that seemed more reluctantly displayed than the Mystery Stone of Lake Winnipesaukee. When I visited, which was a couple of years ago, it was in a small stand-alone case beside a large vent and up against an unobtrusive blank wall that you passed on entering the museum’s Native American exhibit. If you didn’t look behind you as you entered, you didn’t see it, and for some reason it seemed like the museum was okay with that.

But that could just be me projecting, based on the rather unstoried history of this smooth chunk of hieroglyphed stone.

Made of either quartzite or mylonite, the Mystery Stone looks for all the world like a Cadbury Creme Egg in both color and shape, although it’s about twice the size (so more like the UK version of the Easter treat). On its surface are carvings, the most prominent of which being a face, but it is also inscribed with a teepee, an ear of corn, a spiral, a circle, and other, more abstract symbols. Through its major axis has been drilled a hole that, like the rock itself, is small at the top and larger at the bottom. Overall, it doesn't look that remarkable.

However, when it was found in the ground during a fence installation project in 1872 near Lake Winnipesaukee in central New Hampshire, it apparently seemed remarkable, especially to Seneca Ladd, the businessman who organized the dig. He held onto the stone until his death 20 years later. All the usual guesses were made about its origin, but when it came down to it, nobody had a clue what it was or who made it, and that made it seem cool.

Ignorance makes a lot of things seem cool.

Today, we still don’t what it is or who made it. It's still a mystery...stone. However, experts are pretty sure the hole was bored with a machine. That’s enough to hurt its mystery right there, since the explanation seems to be “Some dude just made this for kicks, and relatively recently.”

After Ladd’s death, it found its way into the possession of the New Hampshire Historical Society, where they eventually gave it the aforementioned semi-embarrassed display in their Museum of New Hampshire History in the state capital of Concord, separated from the main displays of Native American and 1800s-era cultural artifacts, as well as items of modern-day interest, like a Segway prototype (invented in NH…we’ll make up for that at some point, I promise).

Actually, I guess the New Hampshire Historical Society is not completely embarrassed by it. I mean, it’s not too hard to find information about it on their website, they sell T-shirts featuring it, and they admit it’s the piece that receives the most inquiries. Still, judging by the exhibit display, you could tell that the museum curators didn’t know exactly what to do with it, and are at least wary of making too big a deal of it.

And, sure, one day we might learn that it’s the top of a lever from a time machine or the necklace bead (or kidney stone) of an ancient god, but its purpose, if it ever really had one, is probably a bit more prosaic. And deep down, everybody with a connection to or an interest in the stone, kind of knows it. 






14 comments:

  1. Has anyone seen if it has a creamy center?

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  2. I absolutely love your book! My brother gave it to me last October because I go to New Hampshire every Halloween Season and explore all things cool, mysterious and spooky. There's no place I would rather be in the fall than New England. Just started reading H.P. Lovecraft's Collected Essays, Volume 4: Travel. It includes his travels up the eastern seaboard. I'm very excited to discover what caught his interest there.

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  3. Thanks, I way appreciate that. I love New England in the Fall. It's a big reason I moved up here. Good call on the HPL travel essays. I need to read those, myself.

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  4. You're so welcome! You did a kick ass job with your book. You should make a volume 2. There's another great book out there by Michael Bell that you most likely have read, but if not, you should. It's titled "Food for the Dead: On the Trail of New England's Vampires." I loved his take on the subject. I was intrigued by it as much as your book because he brought to light so much more than I've found in prior books as I search out and read every book old and new I can get my hands concerning the legends, mysteries, paranormal and history of New England. I love all that stuff, lol! I'm glad to see a person like you pursuing your interests and doing it in a way that you can share it with others through your writing. Your efforts are keeping the stories of these sites and events alive so they don't get lost to obscurity. My sincere thanks for that.

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  5. I love the inference that if it was made with a machine, it CAN'T be Amerindian/it CAN'T be pre-Columbian. What do you call that, Euro-chauvinism? As for the hole, smaller at the top would imply that it was meant to sit on top of some kind of pole, perhaps even a body.


    "On its surface are carvings, the most prominent of which being a face, but it is also inscribed with a teepee, an ear of corn, a spiral, a circle, and other, more abstract symbols." Well, I think you're jumping to conclusions here. It looks to me like the entire object represents a head covered with some kind of hood, so that the inscribed designs could actually represent designs on that hood. Think how the corneas of the eyes are represented on classical Greek and Roman statues. They are carved out, rather than painted on.

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  6. i have a stone like this one buut no drowing in it;ege like stone just like this one and its heavy:it makes me make a lot of questions though there is no drowing;

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  7. Lake Winnipesaukee is not in northern NH.

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  8. Good catch, suzq. Fixed to "central." I'm in Nashua, so every part of NH is north to me.

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  9. I would like your opinion of my explanation of this unique stone. It is a long write up at (http://noahsage.com/new-hampshire-mystery-stone-of-lake-winnipesauke/).

    Love your photos.

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  10. How do we know that ancient men did not invent their own type of machinery (such as what is needed to bore holes in rock)? So much of today's "archeological science" is based on the pre-supposition that ancient man was less intelligent than we we are today - and anything that is found that doesn't fit in with this idea is discarded as a "mystery" or a "fake". Perhaps we should try with NO pre-conceived, unproven pre-suppositions...open our minds a little bit! After all, ancient man had indoor plumbing WAY before it was a modern invention! And what about the helicopter, submarine and airplane on the Temple of Isis?....just asking...

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    1. Well, I have researched ancient Native American cultures, West Mexican shaft tomb cultures from 250bc to 200ad, hopewell cultres and others. I love mysteries, and own many mysterious objects, including a beautiful woodland culture raven pipe, with bow-drilled 1 1/4" hole, three authentic Mound culture stone falcon/eagle effigy pipes with bow-drilled stems, etc. I could go on for hours. The ancien native american cultures had no drilling technology hich drilled perfectly machibed holes. They did remarkable holes, but they always meander and form grooves... Tapering as they go deeper because the stone 'bit' wore down as it went. I have studied many fakes, also, so am aware that modern people never have the stamina or patience that it took the ancients. Thet always, somewhere, cut corners because nobody will tale months, or even years, to make any artifact. They just don't have any incentive, as the ancient people did. Also, there was oftentimes a spirit of life that is missibg from modern fakes. We just don't understand most anything about animals and animal spirits, or even the spirit of being alive. In the case of this egg? The dead face, having such a mechanical robotic look to it? Certainly wan't done by any ancient tribe. Patination? Rock weathers. This stone has whitish in the recesses which are only caused when tools rough up the surface;but no real tine has eroded anything. Clues lead to it being made by recent tools, by someone who had no connection to the separate equally-spaced icons (so bigoted in their simplicity... Tipis were from the midwest, not from New Hampshire). So, it is an embarassment to display such a patently false fabrige egg in a historical society anywhere near Native American artifacts.

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  11. I know what those symbols are I know what they mean.

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