Notes on Chronology

of Piltdown 1913-1920

Teilhard Newsletter July 1981


[4] Piltdown Man was established as a credible fossil by Teilhard's discovery of the canine tooth on August 30, 1913, at Barkham Manor (Piltdown 1).

Charles Dawson died in 1916 at the height of his recognition by the scientific establishment. In 1917 (while Teilhard was still at the front) Smith Woodward announced at a meeting of the Geological Society in London that back in 1915 Dawson had written him that he had discovered at Sheffield Park (Piltdown 2) a molar and skull piece resembling the fossils found in 1913 at Barkham Manor.

Many scientists who had continued to doubt the first reconstruction by Smith Woodward, even after the finding of the canine tooth, were conuerted to belief in a Piltdown Man by the "discouery" two miles away of the back-up man of Sheffield Park. (The method of carbon dating was not yet available to scientists.) A modern human skull and an ape jaw might haue been found together in one place, but hardly in two. From the time of the announcement by Smith Woodward of the 1915 discouery, Piltdown Man was no longer just one curious occurrence: he was a race.

Teilhard did not return to England until August of 1920 when he made a retreat at Ore P1ace, Hastings. He asked Smith Woodward, then living at Hayward's Heath quite near Sheffield Park, to take him on a tour of both Piltdown sites. Woodward complied. On Teilhard's return to France, he wrote his only essay on Piltdown Man entitled, "Le Cas de I'Homme de Piltdown. "


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