Provenance: Friedrich Wöhler (1800-1882), Göttingen, Germany.

Remarks: Vial and specimens from the collection of celebrated 19th c. German chemist Friedrich Wöhler, complete with manuscript/label penned by the hand of Wöhler himself. The entire Linum meteorite weighed a mere 1862 grams and is poorly distributed in collections (see list at bottom).

For the first time, we are pleased to present the circumstances of the fall of the Linum meteorite in the English language. The editor would like to acknowledge the hard work of friend and fellow collector Werner Schroer for his partial translation of this old German text, which was originally published in 1855 (see references):

On the aerolite fallen near Linum, not far from Fehrbellin in the March of Brandenburg; by G Rose.

© 2011
Translated by Werner Schroer

(From the monthly report of the Academy, October 1854.)

After the presentation of the aerolite, which was given to Royal Mineralogical Museum by his Majesty the King, and which was presented to the author by Mr. A.v. Humboldt, did he (the author) read the report of the owner of the peat-bog diggings, Friedrich Kelch, which had been sent together with the stone to His Majesty the King and which stated the following:

The following description was taken from a statement of the foreman of a peat coal plant who lives in Fehrbellin and who is in charge of the Peat-Bog Diggings of Carwe from Friedrich Kelch ¹) of Fehrbellin.

¹) The Peat Bog Diggings of Carwe from Friedrich Kelch in Fehrbellin are located at the so called Bütz - Rhin, a name given to the part of the Rhin River that begins at the Lake Bütz and ends at the point where it turns to the west.

"Shortly before 8 o'clock, around the time of breakfast, on the 5th of September of the year, I was standing on the digging fields that are located near the meadows of the Wustrau farm. There were no clouds in the sky, the air was clear, the water was still. I was intrigued by a strange noise; it was as if the windmills of the adjacent digging plant were spinning and I wondered why this could be happening when no wind was around.

After I was convinced that this wasn't the case, I realized that the sound was coming from above. It was getting louder and louder, approaching from south west and moving to north east. After around two minutes the roaring, which eventually peaked in a terrible howling uproar, stopped very sudden. All the people on the diggings were startled and they looked upwards, but nobody could see anything and fright and terror took hold of them all.

The luckiest one was one of my drivers, whom suffered from hardness of hearing. Because of this he didn't look into the direction of the sound, but he listened to the noise instead. His eyes were looking forward and at the same moment when the deafening noise stopped, he saw on the ground (the ground after the peat was removed) in front of him soil and dirt being thrown up into the air. He called out to me to let me know that two fields (10 Ruthen*) in front of me something had fallen to the ground.

After we went there we searched for a while and we found a hole in the grass, it was round and its diameter was two feet. Normally one would find groundwater in a hole like that, but it was dry like the surrounding ground. Digging deeper in the hole didn't achieve anything, until one of my workers found an opening with his bare hands. It went from south west to north east. The workers dug in that direction and in a vertical depth of around four feet from the top they found the aerolite imbedded in the clay.

The roaring noise mentioned above was also heard in the peat-bog diggings of Linum of Friedrich Kelch, around 15 minutes from our location at the diggings of Carwe, in the direction southwest, but there it sounded more like a drum roll.

The surface of the stone, that looks now slightly cracked, was totally smooth. A hole was dug in it with a knife by the finders. Beside the slightly crumbly mass of stone, a piece of hard metal the size of a large grain of sand, which was so magnetic that it stuck to the knife, was also retrieved. Because of this, and because of its hardness, it was probably iron."

Fehrbellin, September 13, 1854.

The aerolite is complete except for the small hole mentioned above. It has the shape of a three-sided irregular and skewed pyramid with its edges and corners rounded off. One side is slightly bulgy and it has a length on each side of the base of 4 Prussian inches with its height being 3 1/2 inches. Its weight is 3 pounds 21 3/4 Loth.** On the outside it is covered with a black, lusterless, and somewhat rough crust which is, as mentioned above, slightly cracked and, as one can see in the man-made hole, around 1/3 Linie thick, which is therefore a fraction thicker than we have normally seen it on other meteorites.*** The small hole shows us also that the stone belongs to the normal kind of meteorites, and that it is very similar to the recently fallen aerolite from Gütersloh or the one from Mauerkirchen (fell in 1684). Like those it consists of a grayish - white matrix with small solid iron particles mixed in...

[End translation]

Side notes:

* 1 Prussian Rute = 3.766 meters

** 1 Prussian Loth = 16.606 grams, 1 Prussian Pound = 500 grams

*** 1 mm = 0.45881 Prussian Linies

Current Distribution:

1393.1 grams, Mus. Naturkunde, Berlin
7 grams, Bartoschewitz Collection, Giforn, Germany
6.2 grams, David Rose, USA
4 grams, NHM, Vienna
2.358 grams, Marmet Collection, Switzerland
2 grams, NHM, London
1.4 grams, AMNH, New York
0.55 grams, Bandli Collection, USA
0.3 grams, GSI, Calcutta
0.1 grams, FMNH, Chicago


Grady, M.M. (2001)  Catalogue of Meteorites , 5th edn. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Rose, G. (1855) On the aerolite fallen near Linum, not far from Fehrbellin in the March of Brandenburg. Annalen der Physik un Chemie, Band XCIV, pp169-72.


Brandenberg, Germany
Fell September 5, 1854 -- L6 Chondrite
Catalog No. B196.2 -- Vial of crusted fragments (0.55 gr.)  

Copyright 2013 - M. Bandli - Photos may not be used without written permission