Public to catch glimpse of huge meteorite at Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum

By Culture24 Reporter | 20 August 2012
A photo of a section of craggy grey meteorite showing various details within the rock
A section of the Lake House meteorite, which is about to go on public display in Wiltshire
A 30,000-year-old meteorite, thought to be the largest rock ever to have landed in Britain and preserved by the freezing conditions of the last Ice Age, will go on show within striking distance of the house where it was found in a 12-day visit to the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum.

The stone, which weighs 90kg, sat near the front door of Lake House, at Wilsford-cum-Lake, for at least 80 years.

A photo of a large jagged grey meteorite on a white surface with a measuring tape
Mystery surrounds the meteorite, which was held in storage at the Natural History Museum for years© Courtesy The Open University
The Natural History Museum confirmed its meteorite status and kept it in storage after the house was sold. Researchers have been studying it ever since, concluding that cold and ice saved it from disintegration before it was built into a burial mound close to the house, where the local chalk environment helped preserve it further.

Edward Duke, an antiquarian and excavator with his own private museum, may have been the man who found the meteorite during the 19th century, although photo evidence pictures it on the doorstep of Lake House when the property was owned by Joseph Lovibond, a brewer who had year-long stints as the Mayor of Salisbury in 1878 and 1890.

As the current owners of the House, the Bailey family have held the meteorite for almost a century.

A black and white photo of a tall country house on rolling landscape gardens
Lake House, where the meteorite fell to earth© Country Life Library
Organisers at the museum say they are “thrilled” at securing the long-term loan of the object.

A two-week accompanying programme of workshops and education events  will include sessions allowing the public to handle the meteorite, moon rock and other samples of debris.

Professor Colin Pillinger, an expert on the Beagle 2 Mars spacecraft who has linked the meteorite to a smaller one found at Danebury Hill Fort in Hampshire, will also give a lecture on the discovery on September 11.
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