The Eltdown Shards

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Origin: created by Richard F. Searight as an epigraph to his story, "The Sealed Casket"

Description

Debatable and disturbing fragmentary writings found around 1891 C.E. in an early Triassic stratum of a gravel pit near Eltdown, U.S.A., by Doctors Dalton and Woodford and sent to an obscure Midwest museum at Baloin University, where they were kept locked away. A man named Gordon Whitney was able to partially translate them up to the 19th Shard (of 23 shards) before his demise. These translations appear to have been published in book form in the 19th century, but only the Van der Heyl copy is known to exist of this edition. The 23 shards of iron-hard grey clay are all shapes, ranging from the Fifth Shard: an oblong piece about 4 by 8 inches; to the fourteenth: a jagged, roughly triangular tablet nearly 20 inches across. Most of them were incomplete and some were mere fragments. The Nineteenth Shard is roughly 12 inches square, having a lower portion sheared off. The tome deals with prehuman and early human cultures; Shard Two contains a lengthy discussion of the Great Race; the fifth shard discusses the revolting habits of the fiendish Avaloth at some length; the nineteenth shard discusses an entity called the Warder of Knowledge including a spell for summoning It, with the complementary spell for dismissing the Warder missing.

Further tablets bearing a striking resemblance were also found in the Triassic rock in Sussex (in 1905) and translated into English and collected with the Eltdown Shards by the Rev. Arthur Brooke Winters-Hall (in 1917). These consist of 42 tablets, 7 of which appear to be identical to the US find (in collections of both versions, the Eltdown finds are numbered 1-23, the Sussex finds are numbered 24-58; the duplicates are marked with an "s" before the number, i.e. "s.8" is the Sussex version of Shard Eight.) Approximately 350 copies of this thick brochure, referring to the tablets as The Sussex Fragments, were printed at the author's expense. According to Winters-Hall's translation, the Shards tell of giant worm-like aliens, the Spawn of Yekub, and of certain cubes that they used to transfer their minds between universes. The Shards also speak of the planet Yith, the origin of the Great Race.

A third set of tablets are believed to have been passed down through the generations by a secret cult that also saved the Book of Eibon and the Pnakotic Manuscripts and their contents have been added to by the cult, although the original text is prehuman.


Eltdown Shards, Original Tablets

Publication: said to be prehuman; unearthed in USA, 1891

Language: Naacal

Physical Description: 23 shards of iron-hard grey clay in all shapes engraved in fine, symmetrical Naacal characters, except for a one inch margin around the edge, ranging in size and shape from the Fifth Shard (an oblong piece about 4 by 8 inches) to the fourteenth (a jagged, roughly triangular tablet nearly 20 inches across); Most of them were incomplete and some were mere fragments; the Nineteenth Shard is roughly 12 inches square, having a lower portion sheared off.

General Content: The tome deals with prehuman and early human cultures, including Lemurians, Voormis, and Serpent Men. The Shards record that, in distant Elder Times, the wizard Om Oris attempted to defeat the demons Zubnian and Avaloth, the latter of whom was plaguing the earth with a growth of living ice and snow; the nineteenth shard discusses an entity called the Warder of Knowledge and ends with a spell for summoning It, however the shard is broken and is missing the complementary spell for dismissing the Warder.

Number of known copies (if rare): Unique

Last known location of surviving copies (if rare): Midwest museum at Baloin University

Mythos Content

Spells: Contact Warder of the Earth (dismissal is missing)

  • Sanity Loss:
  • Mythos Knowledge:
  • Occult Knowledge:


Eltdown Shards, Whitney Translation

Publication: 1890s USA

Language: English

Physical Description: A man named Gordon Whitney was able to partially translate them, but abandoned the project in fright. He returned to the project years later and completed a translation of the nineteenth shard (of 23 shards) before his demise. Whitney's translation was supposed to have been based on comparison with later Amharic and Arabic root words. These translations appear to have been published in book form in the 19th century, but only the Van der Heyl copy is known to exist of this edition.

General Content: The tome deals with prehuman and early human cultures, including Lemurians, Voormis, and Serpent Men. The Shards record that, in distant Elder Times, the wizard Om Oris attempted to defeat the demons Zubnian and Avaloth, the latter of whom was plaguing the earth with a growth of living ice and snow; the nineteenth shard discusses an entity called the Warder of Knowledge and ends with a spell for summoning It, however the shard is broken and is missing the complementary spell for dismissing the Warder.

Number of known copies (if rare): Unique (Van der Heyl copy)

Last known location of surviving copies (if rare): Alonzo Typer reportedly read from the text of the Eltdown Shards in the library of the deserted van der Heyl house, and regretted having come there; Typer is the last known person to have seen this copy, which is now considered lost.

Mythos Content

Spells: Contact Warder of the Earth (dismissal is missing)

  • Sanity Loss:
  • Mythos Knowledge:
  • Occult Knowledge:


Sussex Fragments

Publication: said to be prehuman; unearthed in 1905

Language:

Physical Description: 42 Further tablets bearing a striking resemblance to the Eltdown Shards were also found in the Triassic rock in Sussex (in 1905). 7 of these tablets appear to be identical to the US find.

General Content: The tome deals with prehuman and early human cultures, including Lemurians, Voormis, and Serpent Men; the Shards also tell of giant worm-like aliens, the Spawn of Yekub, and of certain cubes that they used to transfer their minds between universes, and describe Yith and the Great Race of Yith.

Number of known copies (if rare): Unique

Last known location of surviving copies (if rare):

Mythos Content

Spells:

  • Sanity Loss:
  • Mythos Knowledge:
  • Occult Knowledge:


Sussex Fragments, Winters-Hall Translation

Publication: 1912 England

Language: English

Physical Description: In 1912, a Sussex clergyman named Arthur Brook Winters-Hall published a purported translation, based on comparisons with "pre-human hieroglyphs" handed down in certain mystical circles.

General Content: The tome deals with prehuman and early human cultures, including Lemurians, Voormis, and Serpent Men; the Shards also tell of giant worm-like aliens, the Spawn of Yekub, and of certain cubes that they used to transfer their minds between universes, and describe Yith and the Great Race of Yith.

Number of known copies (if rare): Approximately 350 copies of this thick brochure were printed at the author's expense in 1912.

Mythos Content

Spells:

  • Sanity Loss:
  • Mythos Knowledge:
  • Occult Knowledge:


Eltdown Fragments

Language: Naacal

Physical Description: a couple dozen iron-hard grey clay engraved in Naacal, with other clay, concrete, or stone materials for the more recent additions

General Content: Much the same as the Eltdown Shards, but the contents have been added to by the cult which preserved this copy; many (but not all) of the additions roughly parallel or even identically match the Sussex Fragments. The tome deals with prehuman and early human cultures, including Lemurians, Voormis, and Serpent Men; the Shards also tell of giant worm-like aliens, the Spawn of Yekub, and of certain cubes that they used to transfer their minds between universes, and describe Yith and the Great Race of Yith.

Number of known copies (if rare): Unique

Last known location of surviving copies (if rare): Believed to have been passed down through the generations by a secret cult that also saved the Book of Eibon and the Pnakotic Manuscripts, who have maintained and added to the tablets' content.

Mythos Content

Spells:

  • Sanity Loss:
  • Mythos Knowledge:
  • Occult Knowledge:


Quotes

"...And it is recorded that in the Elder Time, Om Oris, mightiest of the wizards, laid crafty for the demon, Avaloth, and pitted dark magic against him; for Avaloth plagued the earth with a strange growth of ice and snow that crept as if alive, ever southward, and swallowed up the forest and the mountains. And the outcome of the contest with the demon is not known; but wizards of that day maintained that Avaloth, who was not easily discernible, could not be destroyed save by a great heat, the means whereof was not then known, although certain of the wizards foresaw that one day it should be. Yet, at this time the ice fields began to shrink and dwindle and finally vanished; and the earth bloomed forth afresh. – Fragment from the Eltdown Shards"


- Richard F. Searight , epigraph to his story "The Sealed Casket"

Appearances


Heresies and Controversies

  • The Eltdown Shards is the title of a fictional book created by Richard F. Searight in his story "The Sealed Casket" in Weird Tales, March 1935. He created the book as a headnote to the story, but it was published without the headnote. Lovecraft later cited these in The Shadow out of Time (fiction) and The Challenge from Beyond (fiction). "He cited the unpublished headnote in a letter to Clark Ashton Smith (c. March 1935, SL. 5.112) leading some to believe that he wrote [theheadnote]." (Joshi & Shultz, 2001).


Keeper Notes