The Unspunnen Stone
(Unspunnenstein) has been a symbol of the Unspunnenfest
. The stone is regularly thrown in Steinstossen
competitions. It has also been stolen twice, once in 1984 by an underground group from the francophone canton
, and again in 2005.
- Some 3,000 people participated in the first festival in Unspunnen Field, above Interlaken, held on August 17 1805, shortly after Switzerland had been invaded by France. The event included the first competition to throw the Unspunnen Stone. The original Unspunnen Stone weighed 184 pounds. The Unspunnen festival commemorates the reconciliation, during the 13th century, between local lord Burkard von Unspunnen and the founder of the city of Bern, Berchtold V von Zähringen. The name comes from Unspunnen castle, near Interlaken.
- A second competition was held in 1808, but the third was not organized until the centenary in 1905. A replica stone, bearing the dates 1805 and 1905 was used, the original having been lost. The replica weighs 184.09 pounds (83.5 kg) and is Aare granite from the Hasli valley.
- The replica stone was stolen by members of the Belier Group (Jura separatists) from Unterseen museum on Sunday June 3 1984, and "held hostage". A copy was used in later the competitions.
- The 1905 replica stone reappeared seventeen years later, in August 2001, at the festival held in the village Saignelégier, in the canton of Jura. The stone was delivered to Shawne Fielding-Borer (American-born wife of the then Swiss ambassador to Berlin), packaged as confectionery.
- The 1905 replica stone had been damaged by the Belier Group: unhappy with the result of the Swiss national referendum in 1992, in which the Swiss population decided against participation to the European Economic Area (EEA), the Belier Group has engraved twelve stars in the stone, symbolising the European Union, as well as the date of the referendum, December 6 1992, and their own emblem. As a result, the stone lost over 4 pounds in weight, and could no longer be used for competitions, so the second replica continues in use.
- The 1905 stone was again stolen on August 20, 2005 from a hotel in Interlaken. A small stone was left behind by the thieves bearing the emblem of Jura. The French speaking separatists again claimed responsibility.