Charles Dawson (1864-1916)

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Charles Dawson was originally a solicitor, who had an interest in archaeology and geology. At the age of 21, he was elected a Fellow of the Geological Society of London.

Piltdown Man[edit | edit source]

Whilst he did have one find of a previously unknown mammal accredited to his name and a number of other 'finds' resulting in him being elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquities, he was better known for the Piltdown Man scandal which started in 1921.[1] He 'discovered' part of a human-like skull in gravel beds located in Piltdown. He contacted Arthur Smith Woodward, Keeper of Geology at the Natural History Museum at the time[1], about his find. Working together, the two men then proceeded to find multiple bones and flint tools at the site indicating a previously unknown species of man.

The skull had the cranial capacity of a modern human but the jaw of an ape, indicating our brains had developed well before we had adapted to new types of food.

The fraud continued until new dating technology in 1949 revealed the remains to be younger than stated by Dawson. This proved conclusively that the remains could not possibly be a missing link between apes and mankind. Further testing then revealed that the jaw and skull were, in fact, from two different species - most likely orangutan and human.[1]. In reality, Dawson had fastened the jaw of an orangutan to a human skull and filed down the teeth to fit. The finds were removed from the public view amid much outcry. J. Manwaring Baines examined all artifacts donated by Dawson to both Hastings Museum and alerted other national institutions.

History of Hastings Castle[edit | edit source]

Later it was determined that there had been large-scale plagiarism on Dawson's part in authoring the History of Hastings Castle, much of this being based upon copied notes by the original researcher, William Herbert.[2]


Footnotes (including sources)[edit]