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Piltdown Man public house - geograph.org.uk - 21000.jpg
The Piltdown Man pub, Piltdown
Grid reference: TQ441223
Location: 50°58’58"N, 0°3’7"E
Local Government
Council: Wealden

Piltdown is a series of hamlets in Sussex,[1] It is located south of Ashdown Forest.[1] forming a dispersed village in the middle of the county, on the rolling downland which rises to the south into the South Downs. It is a village surrounded by meadowland and coppices, with the Forestry Commission's 'Park Wood' to the east.

Close by is Fletching, to whose civil parish Piltdown is assigned.

Uckfield to the south-east is the closest town. The A272 local road from Newick to Maresfield passes through.

Piltdown Man

A 1913 reconstruction of Eoanthropus dawsoni

The village is best known for the discovery here of 'Piltdown Man'.[1] In 1912, the amateur archaeologist Charles Dawson found a section of a human-like skull in Pleistocene gravel beds near Piltdown and announced that he had discovered the remains of the "missing link" between ape and man. He contacted Arthur Smith Woodward, the Keeper of Geology at the Natural History Museum, and together they discovered more bones and artefacts at the site, which they connected to the same individual, including a jawbone, more skull fragments, a set of teeth, and primitive tools.

Smith Woodward reconstructed the skull fragments and hypothesised that they belonged to a hominid from 500,000 years ago. The discovery was announced at a Geological Society meeting and was given the Latin name Eoanthropus dawsoni ("Dawson's dawn-man"). It took until 1953 for the discovery to be conclusively exposed as a forgery: the bones were the altered mandible and teeth of an orangutan deliberately combined with the cranium of a modern human.

About the village

Piltdown has a single pub, The Lamb (which was previously named The Piltdown Man). The nearest main shops though are in Uckfield, about five miles to the south-east.

There is a golf course, which operated the 'Piltdown Academy'.[2]

On the downland hill slopes warmed by the sun is a vineyard, Barkham Manor Winery.[3]

Local legend

Local tradition claims that the area near the golf course has a plague pit where victims from the nearby villages Fletching, Maresfield and Newick buried their dead when the Black Death struck in 1348.