The three faces of the Lake Winnipesaukee Mystery Stone, New Hampshire, USA

Out of Place Artifact: The Mysterious Stone Egg of Lake Winnipesaukee


In 1872, construction workers digging a hole for a fence post near the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee in New England found a lump of clay with an egg shaped artifact inside it, six feet below the ground. Called the ‘Mystery Stone’, it is one of New Hampshire's more curious and lesser known relics . Amateur and professional archaeologists have speculated about the origin of this strange artifact for well over one hundred years with no clear answers emerging.

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 may very well have been the work of someone living in a faraway place and time, as nothing like its fine workmanship has been produced by the Native American tribes living locally in the area.

Panoramic view of Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire

Panoramic view of Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire. (Melikamp/ CC BY SA 3.0 )

Strang Symbols on the Lake Winnipesaukee Mystery 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. Hard as granite, it is about the size and shape of a goose egg. The stone is a type of quartzite, derived from sandstone, or mylonite, a fine-grained rock formed by the transference of rock layers along faults. There are holes bored in both ends of the stone and it was drilled through from end to end with different sized tools, and polished along its surface.

Beyond its strange construction and design, the stone is marked with bizarre carvings ranging from astronomical symbols to a human face along its smooth sides. On one side, there are what appears to be inverted arrows, a moon with some dots, and a spiral.  Another side has an ear of corn with 17 kernels in the row.

Underneath, there is a circle with three figures; one of which looks like a deer's leg, along with some kind of animal with large ears. The “third” side shows a tepee with four poles, an oval, and a human face. The face is sunken with a nose that does not rise above the surface of the egg and lips that seem to give the image some kind of purposeful expression.

Details of carvings on two of the sides of the stone

Details of carvings on two of the sides of the Mystery Stone. ( Noahsage)

History of the Lake Winnipesaukee Stone Egg

It was Seneca A. Ladd, a local businessman, who hired the workers to dig the fence post that is credited with the discovery of this intriguing artifact. When it was first unveiled to the world, the American Naturalist journal described it as “a remarkable Indian relic.”

Documents and newspaper articles show that 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. 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 it was separated from the Native American 1800’s-era cultural artifacts and items of modern day interest.

Seneca A. Ladd.

Seneca A. Ladd. ( Cowhampshire)

Controversial Theories on the Origin of the Strange Stone Egg

As for its purpose, there have been attempts made by historians over the years to come up with an explanation for the stone with no clear answer to date. Initial interpretations began with the simplest answer.

In November of 1872, The American Naturalist suggested that the stone "commemorates a treaty between two tribes.” However, this idea did not hold up long and it was later hypothesized that the stone was some kind of ancient tool .

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.”

Is the Mystery Stone a Native American “Birth Stone?”

Indigenous historian Joe Graveline suggested an interesting purpose for the Mystery Stone – he told Greenfield Recorder in 2018 that he believes it was a Native American birth stone. According to the Greenfield Recorder, a birth stone is “a stone that was heated and internally placed inside the pregnant woman by midwives to relax muscles during difficult births.”

Graveline says this particular stone would have been extra special and used by a Native American midwife to help a mother “deliver a person who became a venerated spiritual or governmental leader of either sex.” He also believes that it was a grave offering and if the construction workers had dug a little deeper they would have encountered bones.

The Perfectly Drilled Holes

One particularly interesting detail about the Mystery Stone’s construction worth noting are the two holes bored in both ends of the stone with different size bits. Each bore is straight, not tapered. Scratches in the lower bore suggest it was placed on a metal shaft and removed several times, according to one analysis done by New Hampshire state officials in 1994. Richard Boisvert, a state archaeologist, believes these holes are highly regular:

“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.”

Boisvert, who deeply laments the lack of details on the context in which the stone was found, went on to suggest that the holes were drilled using power tools rather than traditional techniques used by Native Americans. He added that there was every chance the holes were made during the 19th century, which would mean tampering of the object. This has led some to believe the Winnipesaukee’s stone mystery is simply some kind of elaborate hoax.

The face on the Lake Winnipesaukee mystery stone, New Hampshire, USA

The face on the Lake Winnipesaukee Mystery Stone, New Hampshire, USA. ( Noahsage)

The only thing that seems certain, or of which there is consensus, is that it was created using some type of machine . However, the fact remains that no one knows who made the object, when or why.

At one time the Mystery Stone attracted the wonder of the scientific world, with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. offering to send a map to Seneca A. Ladd to make a casting of the egg.

Today, the Lake Winnipesaukee Mystery Stone is on display in a case at the Museum of New Hampshire History, surrounded by mirrors to show off its unique and enigmatic features.

Top Image: The three faces of the Lake Winnipesaukee Mystery Stone, New Hampshire, USA. Source:

By Bryan Hill


"Lake Winnipesaukee Mystery Stone." Lake Winnipesaukee Mystery Stone.

Klatell, James. "New England's 'Mystery Stone'" CBSNews. July 21, 2006.

"Lake Winnipesaukee Mystery Stone." Atlas Obscura.

"New Hampshire Historical Society - Mystery Stone." New Hampshire Historical Society - Mystery Stone.

Ocker's, J.W. "Mystery Stone of Lake Winnipesaukee." OTIS (Odd Things I've Seen):. June 6, 2011.

"Carved Stone Still Mystifies Scholars." Meta-Religion. July 19, 2006.

Hurd, D. Hamilton. History of Merrimack and Belknap Counties, New Hampshire. Philadelphia: J.W. Lewis &, 1885



IJ Brown's picture

Its a hoax stone fashioned with metal tools and planted by the one who found it

I have deciphered the egg it says in ancient times people used to lay stick in a x shape using two other sticks with corn , the corn would turn into popcorn which in ancient time they thought it was a gift from the gods they then sealed the popcorn inside an egg in hopes it would bring good luck... (i think it says that)

I found a stone once. Shape of heart, in ground at Big Indian NY. I left in a friend's car by accident. He was going to come to my house for dinner. He and gf were late, so I made a sign and called to the stone and said, "No, you're not coming over to dinner. I'm hungry.!" I was just about to eat my pasta , about a minute later, phone rang. "My car died! Only five miles away!". I said, call me, let me know if you can jumpstart. I issued the reverse command to the stone and made summoning sign. Call came right after, "Car running...battery fine." So yes stuff works. I don't know what happened to that stone but I'd say it's a problem for someone if it isn't put back where I found it.

wow, that is an amazing situation you are in. Why have you never held all 4 again & entered the altered state again?

a lot of people have the wrong idea about what thunderstones really are my life time I am the only one I have ever known that found any. there are questions about how to find them and where they come from .. my story I hope will clear these questions up or totally confuse everyone ... sorry

my father & mother took my oldest brother ,me and my youngest brother rock hounding for gem stones ... after finding some . the land owner ask my father if he was going to the Indian dig site , my father said what is that . and the land own showed him a site .. it was a plowed field .. he told my father the near by university had dug there before and did not find much . but now and then pottery would show up in the field . so we ate lunch and the land own left and we started to hunt for pottery . I walked about 8 or 10 ft into the field and just stood there ,. my father told me what happen next .. I looked straight up above me and went into some kind of a mediation trans walked about 4 ft and stopped and bend down on my knees and started running my right hand threw the dirt I never took my eyes off the sky above me ...I picked up something and put it in my left hand .. I then walked about 15 ft away from that spot and did the same thing ,I never look down and then walked to the edge of the field and did it again .. all the time my eyes were looking up at the sky even when I was walking ...the last one ,I walked about 60 ft away and dug down a ft or more deep and found the stone and put it in my hand and walked back to where my father was about 15ft away from him I stopped and my head looked straight forward and i froze like a dead person .. my father had been watching all of this the whole time , he tried to see what was in my hand but I was frozen in my tracks and he could not get my hand open .he then yield to mother telling her I was not breathing , he then started to panic yelling at me and shaking me trying get me to wake up ... I came out of the trans and don't remember any of it ...but when I open my hand there was the 4 black stones .. I don't know how or why ...I know this is how they were found .I was there ,they found me ..did they fall from the sky ..NO ..but I can under stand why people would think that ...they defy modern science and logic .. I under stand this but if you can tell me how this is possible ,I will be just as happy as you are to know ... I don't know what this means .. I don't under stand it .. but that is the truth and that's how they were found ...I most likely have just as many questions as you do about this .. I just don't know the answers ...I have so many questions about this I gave up and put them away and that's where they have been most of the last 50 years this fall....I know it sounds crazy but that's the truth and that's what happened ...that 's nether here nor there ...these are not made by human hands ..they are just as they were the day I found them ...I have no idea what they are made of .. I have been told many theories threw the years , , what do I know about them .. they are some kind of black stone not onyx or tourmaline, they have what looks like fine wire gold running threw out them .. one has what looks like a small diamond chip in it .. very small and very shinny ,they are not machine made ..they are heavy for there size like the weight of black gold ,they have very small pen point pick marks all over them ,more on some then others ...I get light headed being around them and my arms lose feeling if I hold them ...some other people could not touch them at all .. it freak them out ...some did not even like being in the room with them ...

you can not see threw them or even into the them .. they are not perfect they have some scratches and light roughness ...

the wampum bead is made of the same type of stone and is hand made ... the Shaman must have had a source of this type of stone ...or knew where to look for it ...I have a garden with lots of clay and I would have found some of this stone there if it was from clay .. so it most likely is from glacier movement or something like that ... the site was dated to 1685- early 1700's around the time of the lost nation ...and that would be about the time the egg would have been made...coopers falls was founded in 1649 and it had to be 20-40 years after that ... we still don't know if it has anything to do with guiding me to the stones ...? and why me there were 5 people there that day ...?

so lots of questions and lots of more questions


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