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Sussex’s Most Famous Hoax Revealed in New Series of Heritage Talks

4 October 2017

All will be revealed behind one of archaeological sciences most famous hoaxes, Piltdown Man, at the first in a new series of Eastbourne Heritage talks at the Town Hall on Wednesday 18 October.

Piltdown Reconstruction


Over a century ago a mysterious discovery in the East Sussex village of Piltdown uncovered ‘Piltdown Man’, the earliest human remains on record and at the time, the biggest discovery in pre-historic archaeology, which went on to fool the world.

Dr Miles Russell, a senior lecturer, author and TV archaeologist, will be uncovering the many layers behind one of the most famous and long-running scams in archaeology, revealing the name of the fraudster and his motivation, along with his 39 other hoaxes perpetrated in Sussex.

The new series of monthly talks continues throughout the autumn with regular BBC’s ‘The One Show’ contributor, David Olusoga, bringing his TV show ‘A Black History of Britain’ to Eastbourne on 15 November, which featured Eastbourne’s now renowned discovery of the Beachy Head Lady. Dr Matt Pope completes the series on 6 December, with a look at evidence of a possible Neanderthal heartland across the now submerged English Channel.

Eastbourne Borough Council Lead Cabinet Member for Tourism and Enterprise, Cllr Margaret Bannister said “This is the perfect evening to get a glimpse into modern day archaeology, evolution and forensic science from some superb historians. We have some fascinating history all around us here in Sussex and it is important to celebrate these discoveries, while we continue to search for more clues as to our lives of our ancestors.”

Piltdown Man was first discovered by Charles Dawson in 1912, claiming he had found the ‘missing link’ between ape and man with bone fragments dating back 500,000 years. The controversial claim garnered worldwide attention until it was exposed 41 years later as a forgery, thanks to the advance in scientific dating techniques.

Dr Miles Russell has been researching the Piltdown Man discovery for over a decade and authored 15 books, including Piltdown Man: the Secret Life of Charles Dawson, Prehistoric Sussex and Piltdown Man: Case Closed.

A co-Director of Bournemouth University’s Archaeological Field School, he has appeared on many radio and TV programmes including Digging for Britain, The One Show, Timewatch, Operation Stonehenge and Time Team.

‘The Piltdown Hoax – How East Sussex Fooled the World’ starts 7.30pm on Wednesday 18 October at Eastbourne Town Hall. Tickets cost £10 and include a glass of wine on arrival.

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