WITH the days numbered for Hampstead police station, officers have been sharing stories about life over the years at the Rosslyn Hill nick. I like the one told to the New Journal’s Alice Hutton last month about how Spurs striker Jurgen Klinsmann used to send Christmas cards to his local bobbies when he was playing in the Premier League. A tale lost in the mists of time, however, is the night police at the station thought they were dealing with a gruesome murder after the discovery of a woman’s skull on Hampstead Heath. The time machine takes you back to February 1965 when a workman made what must have been a pretty frightening find. “It looked very much like a skull. But the size of it was that of a girl or a young woman and the hair was greased and plaited in a gypsy style,” he told reporters.
But as detectives got to work, a woman walked into Hampstead police station and said their time was being wasted and that someone she knew, a Scottish medical student, had left the skull in a pile of sand. All true, her friend had brought it back from Peru. Pathologists and investigators later established that the skull was “ancient” and maybe that of an Inca Princess who had died 500 years earlier.
One or two newspapers declared Scotland Yard as being “the victims of the biggest hoax in years”. I don’t blame the officers. We were never taught anything about the Peruvian Incas at school either and our base knowledge about South American ancient history came from the BBC’s Mysterious Cities Of Gold.
Below one, of the pictures Alice took behind the scenes at Hampstead police station as it looks today: