The History of the Neolithic Studies Group
The present Neolithic Studies Group was founded in 1984. But history shows that this was not the first time that such an idea had been mooted. While sorting through papers at the Alexander Keiller Museum in Avebury, Dr Ros Cleal found a letter dated 10th November 1930 from Alexander Keiller to Stuart Piggott, suggesting the formation of a study group on the Neolithic period very much along the lines of what emerged in the 1980s. The text of the letter runs as follows (reporduced by kind permission of Ros Cleal and the Alexander Keiller Museum):
Faced at every turn for years past with the problems connected with the study of the neolithic period in Britain, I have come to regret more and more that among those few archaeologists who specialise upon this period which half a dozen years ago was virtually unknown in this country, and concerning which we now know paradoxically so much and yet understand so little, there should be, relatively speaking, so few opportunities for open discussion. I therefore broached the suggestion to Eliot Curwen of the formation of a small club or society (without entrance fee or subscription), the qualification for membership of which would be that one had carried out and was interested in researches as regards the neolithic period in Great Britain. The purposes of this society as I visualised it were the closer co-operation between members in their work, fuller intercommunication by means of circular reports or otherwise, and the giving of opportunity for full and frank discussion of any problems by means of occasional meetings, preferably to follow informal little dinners when and where possible.
Curwen concurred with the project, and I wrote to Thurlow Leeds of Oxford, who replied enthusiastically. I am therefore writing to Hemp, Ross Williamson and Callander, while the other members of the Windmill Hill Staff, viz. my wife, Miss D. M. Liddell and Miss Kathleen Duncan, would also join.”