It fell from outer space and landed in a small Gloucestershire town, and now it’s gone on display in the Natural History Museum. The Winchcombe meteorite fell in several places after lighting up the skies in February, and while the most famous was the sooty splat found on a suburban driveway, the largest fragment was found in a nearby field.
Tint pieces of the rare carbonaceous chondrite meteorite have been sent to scientists to study, but the largest piece is now on display for the rest of us to look at.
It’s in The Vault, a secure space at the back of the museum’s mineral’s gallery where their most scientifically valuable rocks are stored.
Here, a series of very solid-looking boxes, each with their own security camera houses small precious fragments of the rarest stones.
The meteorite being inside another glass container rather than stuck on a spike gives it a certain feeling of being a holy relic. Yet here it is, on metal foil base and in an air controlled environment, a fragment of the very birth of the solar system.
It feels slightly underwhelming here though, being but one of a collection of rare stones, rather than maybe for a year or so, the headline act of the display. People maybe not realising the significance were more interested in the other displays of the glittering stones than this lump of dark stone. Then again, that would have cost a heck of a lot to construct a secure vault for this one stone to sit in.
Display niggles aside, it’s marvellous to see it at all – and who could have imagined, we now have a celebrity of meteorites.
You can find the Winchcombe meteorite in the mineral’s gallery, which is on the 1st floor just above the main entrance hall.