Edward Simpson, alias Bones, Flint Jack, Fossil Willie and Snake Billy
Almost 200 years ago, Whitby [north-east Yorkshire] was a vibrant centre for geological discovery. Ammonites allowed Lewis Hunton to devise his geological theory that would transform palaeontology, while all along the coast ancient artefacts were being uncovered. This was the golden age of Victorian geology and museums and collectors were furiously snapping up any items they could find. Into this world was born Edward Simpson, a Sleights resident of no remarkable birth or education, but who possessed a talent that would make him famous as a rascal and forger.
Aged 26, and having achieved a good reputation in the local area, Edward was approached by a dealer who showed him a flint arrow head and asked whether he could make one like it. Discovering a natural talent for forgery, Edward embarked upon a 30-year career that would have earned him a modest fortune, had he not fallen foul of a liking for drink. To supply his cravings for liquor he set about forging hundreds of flint arrow heads and a variety of other ‘artefacts’, including pottery, a Roman milestone and even a Roman breastplate made out of a metal tea tray. But the sale of these items could not compensate for his need for alcohol and the vagrant Edward squatted in cliffs near Bridlington or lived in the woods of Staintondale – where he could set up a pottery and manufacture more artefacts.
Source: The Whitby Gazette. Full article here.