From the Ensisheim Woodcut (Sebastian Bran)


Source: Monthly Magazine, Vol 16, Dec 1 1803

Curious facts relating to STONES and other SUBSTANCES, said to have fallen at different periods, and in different places, from the CLOUDS.

In the fourteenth volume of the Monthly Magazine we have given a brief account of Mr Howard’s experiments and observations on certain stony substances, which are said to have fallen, at different periods, on the earth; and in the 523rd page of the same volume, the subject is resumed rather more at large.  In several of the later numbers of Mr Tilloch’s excellent work entitled the “Philosophical Magazine”, we have, translated chiefly from French journals of respectability, some Memoirs of Stones which were not noticed in Mr Howard’s account, printed in the Philosophical Transactions.

The meteor which appeared on the 13th of the present month (November), and which was seen at the same instant in many parts of the kingdom, widely distant from each other, and which will be particularly noticed in the Meteorological Report, at the end of the present number, has excited new interest to subjects of this kind, and on that account, we presume it will be acceptable to our readers to have an abridged and methodical narrative of what has lately appeared in other respectable publications, both in our own and in foreign languages: and for the sake of order we shall range the facts according to the several dates at which these phenomena are said to have happened, giving in the margin the authorities upon which they depend.

The stone which fell at Ensisheim in Alsace, and which is generally known as the “Stone of Ensisheim”, made a considerable noise about the end of the fifteenth century.  The following notice respecting it was formerly preserved with the stone in the parish church of the place:

On Wednesday, November 7, the night before St Martin’s day, in the year of our Lord 1492, a singular miracle happened: for between the hours of eleven and twelve a loud clap of thunder took place, with a long-continued noise, which was heard at a great distance; and a stone fell from the heavens in the Ban of Ensisheim which 260 pounds; and the noise was much louder in other places than here. A child then saw it strike on a field situated on the upper Ban, towards the Rhine and the In, near the canton of Gisgone[?], which was sown with wheat. It did no hurt, except that it made a hole there.

It was afterwards transported thence; and a great many fragments were detached from it, which the land-vogt forbade. It was then deposited in the church, with the intention of suspending it as a miracle; and a great many people came hither to see this stone, respecting which there were singular discourses. But the learned said they did not know what it was, for it was something supernatural that so large a stone should fall from the atmosphere; but that it was a miracle of God: because, before that time, nothing of the kind had ever been heard of, seen, or described.

When this stone was found, it had entered the earth to a depth equal to the height of a man. What everybody asserted was, that it had been the will of God that it had been found. And the noise of it was heard at Lucerne, at Villing, and many other places, so loud, that it was thought the houses were all overturned.

And when king Maximilian was here, the Monday after St Catharine’s day of the same year, his royal excellency caused the stone which had fallen to be carried to the castle; and after conversing a long time with his lords, he said the people of Ensisheim should take it: and he gave orders that it should be suspended in the church, and that no person should be permitted to take any part of it. His excellency, however, took two fragments; one of which he kept, and the other he sent to Duke Sigismund of Austria. The people talked a great deal of this stone, which was suspended in the choir, where it still is, and many came to see it.”