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Myths and origins: Piltdown Man’s cricket bat

In 1912, in the midst of a wet cricketing season, a surprising find was unearthed in a Sussex gravel pit. ‘Piltdown Man’ seemed to be the paleontological find of the century: a Darwinian missing link.

Tom Holland
In 1912, in the midst of a wet cricketing season, a surprising find was unearthed in a Sussex gravel pit - ‘Piltdown Man’

In 1912, in the midst of a wet cricketing season, a surprising find was unearthed in a Sussex gravel pit. ‘Piltdown Man’ seemed to be the paleontological find of the century: a Darwinian missing link. Dubbed the ‘first Englishman’, he was even found buried with an elephant bone tool that looked suspiciously like a cricket bat. In this lecture, part of the Being Human festival of the humanities, historian and keen cricketer Tom Holland explores the case of Piltdown Man. One of history’s greatest hoaxes, what can this case tell us about myths of national identity, our desire to explore our origins, and the mythic power of cricket itself?

Followed by a wine reception.