Wold Cottage meteorite

Coordinates: 54°8′02.4″N 0°24′45.3″W / 54.134000°N 0.412583°W / 54.134000; -0.412583
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Wold Cottage
ClassOrdinary chondrite
CountryUnited Kingdom
RegionYorkshire, England
Coordinates54°8′02.4″N 0°24′45.3″W / 54.134000°N 0.412583°W / 54.134000; -0.412583[1]
Observed fallYes
Fall date13 December 1795, 3 p.m.
TKW56 lb (25 kg)
Related media on Wikimedia Commons

The Wold Cottage meteorite (also called the Wold Newton meteorite) fell near Wold Cottage farm in 1795, a few miles away from the village of Wold Newton in Yorkshire, England.

The meteorite[edit]

The stone fell at around 3 o'clock, on 13 December 1795, landing within a few yards of ploughman John Shipley.[2] It created a crater approximately 1 yard (0.91 m) across, and embedded itself in the underlying chalk rock to a depth of 7 inches (180 mm), passing through 12 inches (300 mm) of topsoil. The fall was observed by several people, who described a dark body passing through the air.[3] As discovered at its landing point, the stone was warm and smoking; several people reported sounds of explosions as it fell.[4] The owner of the land was Major Edward Topham, a well-known public figure, an ex-soldier, playwright and newspaper proprietor; he publicised the find and exhibited the meteorite publicly at Piccadilly in London.[5][6]

The stone initially weighed 56 pounds (25 kg).[7] James Sowerby, a naturalist, acquired the meteorite in 1804.[5] The meteorite was later acquired by the British Museum in 1835.[5][8]

The meteorite can nowadays be seen in the Natural History Museum in London.

Analysis and research[edit]

Early analyses recorded two parts of the stone, an earthy part, and a malleable part. The earthy part analysed as containing silicon, magnesium, iron, and a small amount of nickel, of which some parts of the iron and nickel were in the elemental state; the earthy substance was similar to kaolin (weathered feldspar), but relatively tough. The malleable parts also contained iron and nickel, the majority iron. A form of iron pyrites (iron sulphur compound) was also reported present.[9][10] Modern science records the meteorite as a L6 ordinary chondrite.[1]

The Wold Cottage meteorite was the largest meteorite observed to fall in Britain, and is the second-largest recorded in Europe (after the Ensisheim meteorite).[5] The meteorite and evidence given about its fall contributed to the debate concerning whether extraterrestrial matter existed or not, and towards the early scientific study of meteorites.[11][12][13]

The monument[edit]

The Wold Newton meteorite monument
On this Spot, Decr. 13th, 1795
Fell from the Atmoſphere
In Breadth 28 inches
In Length 36 inches
Whoſe Weight was 56 pounds.
In Memory of it
Was erected by

A monument was erected on the location of the stone's impact, by Major Topham, on whose property the stone had fallen.[14] The structure was built of brick 4 ft (1.2 m) square and 25 ft (7.6 m) high, with a plaque on one face.[15]

In fiction[edit]

The event was used by the science fiction writer Philip José Farmer in his "biographies" of fictional characters (Tarzan Alive and Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life) as the basis for a literary premise commonly referred to as the Wold Newton family. The film Robinson in Ruins would also refer to the event, with the main character, Robinson, seeing it showing meteorites always fall at the time of significant events, in this case the 1795 amendment to the Settlement Act which allowed capitalism to develop faster in England.

The meteorite plays quite a central role in the 2019 detective novel Sherlock Holmes & The Christmas Demon by British author James Lovegrove.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Meteoritical Bulletin Database: Wold Cottage
  2. ^ "Natural History Museum". www.nhm.ac.uk. Retrieved 25 July 2017.
  3. ^ Sowerby 1806, pp. 5–6.
  4. ^ Sowerby 1806, pp. 18–19.
  5. ^ a b c d Marvin, U. B. (2006). "Meteorites in history: an overview from the Renaissance". In McCall, G. J. H.; Bowden, A. J.; Howarth, R. J. (eds.). The History of Meteoritics and Key Meteorite Collections: Fireballs, Falls and Finds. Geological Society. pp. 39–40. ISBN 978-1-86239-194-9.
  6. ^ Pillinger & Pillinger 1996.
  7. ^ Sowerby 1806, p. 6.
  8. ^ "SOWERBY, JAMES (1757–1822)". The Vauxhall Society. Archived from the original on 24 January 2008. Retrieved 13 November 2012.
  9. ^ Sowerby 1806, p. 18.
  10. ^ Howard, E.; Williams, J. L.; De Bournon, C. (1802). "Experiments and Observations on Certain Stony and Metalline Substances, Which at Different Times are Said to Have Fallen on the Earth; Also on Various Kinds of Native Iron". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. 92: 168–212. Bibcode:1802RSPT...92..168H. doi:10.1098/rstl.1802.0009.
  11. ^ Sources:
  12. ^ Pillinger & Pillinger 1996a.
  13. ^ Pillinger & Pillinger 1998.
  14. ^ Sowerby 1806, p. 7.
  15. ^ Historic England. "Commemorative monument recording fall of a meteorite, erected 1799 (79897)". Research records (formerly PastScape). Retrieved 13 November 2012.


External links[edit]

  • "(search) "Wold"", piclib.nhm.ac.uk, Natural History Museum, Images related to the Wold Cottage Meteorite and monument