“Whosoever wields this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.” – Odin
You may recognise that line from Marvel’s 2011 smash hit movie – Thor, which was based on Stan Lee’s original Marvel Comic character of the same name. Of course, that quote refers to an enchantment that Odin placed on Mjolnir (Thor’s hammer), wherein he was trying to ensure that Thor would remain worthy of both the hammer and the throne of Asgard, throughout the growing conflicts across the realms.
Yes, that’s from a comic book. Or, well, a movie based on a comic book. But the comic book was – as most, I’m sure, are already aware – based on actual Norse mythology. Stan Lee did an impressive job staying true to the source of his inspiration, though of course, there are differences.
“Then he gave the hammer to Thor, and said that Thor might smite as hard as he desired, whatsoever might be before him, and the hammer would not fail; and if he threw it at anything, it would never miss, and never fly so far as not to return to his hand; and if be desired, he might keep it in his sark, it was so small; but indeed it was a flaw in the hammer that the fore-haft was somewhat short.”
That account comes from Icelandic historian, Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda, Skáldskaparmál –one of the two most important sources of Scandinavian folklore – and you’ll notice the similarity between the original mythology and Stan Lee’s artistic interpretation.
Norse mythology is incredibly rich and poetic, and offers us insights into the human condition not found elsewhere, but what’s the point of the above? Well, you may or may not know that some people think Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, really exists…well, sort of.
Enter, The London Hammer.
Also called the London Artefact and the Fossil Hammer, or in creationist circles, proof of…well, I’m not really sure, but it’s important to them.
The London Hammer was found near the small town of London, Texas (not England) in either 1934 or 1936, by a pair of hikers, Mr. & Mrs. Max Hahn, as they explored the region known as Red Creek. It was said that Mrs. Hahn spotted a rock with a strange bit of wood protruding from it (a wooden nodule, as most describe it). They thought this odd and believing it might be significant, they took the rock as a souvenir. Some years later, in either 1946 or 1947, their son George broke the rock open to reveal an apparently modern, metal hammer head embedded in the rock and attached to the wood (the wood being the handle).
That might seem like a strange thing to find inside a rock, and your instincts would be right. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but there are explanations. Several, actually.
The most notable explanation – though not necessarily the most likely – is the one offered by its current owner. The London Hammer is right-now on display in the Creation Evidence Museum of Texas, which is owned and operated by renowned creationist Carl Baugh.
“If the artifact is truly from the Cretaceous time frame, where does this leave evolutionary theory, since man was not supposed to have evolved for another 100-million years or so? If the artifact is relatively recent, that means that the Cretaceous Hensell Sand formation from which it came is relatively young… Again, where does that leave evolutionary theory with its traditional dates for the Cretaceous formations?”
You may have picked up on a few little tidbits of information there. Namely, that the rock or stone dates to the Cretaceous period (roughly 145-66 million years ago). As mentioned, I’m not entirely sure what Baugh thinks this proves, or how it proves it, but since he, currently, is the proverbial Thor, we have to acknowledge his view.
The other obvious explanation is decidedly Fortean. That is, of course, that this is an example of OOP-ART, or out-of-place artefacts, which isn’t all that different than the creationist view, but it deserves to be mentioned. The call is that since the stone in which the hammer is encased apparently predates the existence of man, the only conclusion that can be made is that someone or something existed in that early time period, who was capable of creating and using such a tool. This of course, is held as proof of either ancient aliens or a lost early advanced civilization on Earth.
You can take from those explanations what you will. But there is more read.
Unfortunately, and somewhat predictably, Baugh has continually refused to allow outside examination of the artefact, and prior to his acquiring it in 1984 from Mr. & Mrs. Hahn, the artefact was a well-kept secret.
Baugh claims that the rock surrounding the location where the hammer was found is Ordovician sandstone, which would make it older than 1.5 million years. No one knows how he came to that conclusion, since the original location of the find is not known, beyond the general notation of Red Creek. In any event, Ordovician is as good a guess as any, so most who’ve looked into the claim agree that’s possible, or even likely.
Where experts depart from Baugh is in how the hammer came to be embedded in the rock. And the key here is concretion.
That common geological process has been the cause of a great many weird OOPART cases over the years, such as the Klerksdorp Spheres and even the Waffle Rock of West Virginia, it’s time that the term and the idea became common knowledge.
A concretion is a hard, compact mass of sedimentary rock formed by the precipitation of mineral cement within the spaces between the sediment grains.
I know, that doesn’t really help your understanding, so here’s the translation: rocks are basically just compact clumps of sand (mineral cement and sedimentary grains), but not all sand particles are the same size and shape. So when rock forms, which happens very slowly, the smaller particles (usually mineral cement) in the sand filter through, between the larger particles, often finding small voids in the sediment, where they ultimately become concretions due to the immense pressure being placed on them by the rest of the sediment.
Now, the sand that makes up a rock comes from other rocks that are eroding and dissolving. This is a continual process that never stops. What this means is that, while the age of the rocks around one particular example might be quite old, it doesn’t mean the chunk you’re holding in your hand was formed that long ago. And, relevant to The London Hammer, anything that happens to be trapped in that void along with the minerals will become encased in rock.
Rock can’t be dated directly; geologists have to use indirect indicators to judge the age of certain deposits. Basically they look at various minerals held inside rocks and compare that to other rocks, among other methods.
So, here’s the thing. The London Hammer appears to be set inside a piece of Ordovician rock, apparently greater than 1.5 million years old, but since no one has ever been allowed to examine it, we have no idea if that’s an accurate assessment. Secondly – although this is the primary explanation – since sedimentary rock is always eroding, dissolving, and reforming, it’s possible, and in this case most likely, that the hammer and rock formed together over a period of decades to centuries.
In fact, one of the only people to take any of the claims seriously enough to actually look into it was the one-time Editor in Chief of the National Center for Science Education, John Cole. He concluded, much as you might expect, that The London Hammer is a discarded miner’s hammer from the early to mid-19th century that has since been encased inside the concretion through the natural process outlined above.
“The stone is real, and it looks impressive to someone unfamiliar with geological processes. How could a modern artifact be stuck in Ordovician rock? The answer is that the concretion itself is not Ordovician. Minerals in solution can harden around an intrusive object dropped in a crack or simply left on the ground if the source rock (in this case, reportedly Ordovician) is chemically soluble (Cole, 1985).”
No doubt this will do little to convince the adamant believer, but in this case at least, it can’t be said that the scientific establishment is holding anything back.
 Creation Evidence Museum of Texas: The London Artefact http://www.creationevidence.org/displays/london_artifact.php
 Glen J. Kuban. The London Hammer: An Alleged Out-of-Place-Artefact http://paleo.cc/paluxy/hammer.htm
exas: The London Artefact http://www.creationevidence.org/displays/london_artifact.php