York Castle Museum

Star Work

The Middlesbrough Meteorite

The Middlesbrough Meteorite hit the earth in 1881. It is about 4,500 million years old and was formed at the same time as the earth and the solar system.

On the afternoon of 14 March, 1881, a booming sound was heard over north-east Yorkshire. A few seconds later, at 3.35pm, workmen at a railway siding in Middlesbrough heard a 'rushing or roaring' sound overhead, followed by a thud, as something buried itself in the embankment nearby, just yards away from where they were working.

They went to investigate and found a vertical hole in the ground with the meteorite at the bottom. Victorian scientists, including the famous astronomer Alexander Herschel, recognised the importance of the meteorite and it was carefully excavated and preserved in a box.

The British Museum apparently wanted it for its collection. But the North East Railway company deemed the meteorite 'lost property', because it fell on their land, and insisted that it stayed in Yorkshire.