The Implement Petrology Group: A Brief History

Dr Paul R Preston, Lithoscapes Archaeological Research.

The Implement Petrology Group (IPG) is a forum of accomplished lithicists, geologists, and museum curators from academia and the commercial sectors. Membership is by invitation only and adjudicated (peer-reviewed by the membership) on demonstrable excellence in their fields. However, we are pleased to welcome individuals to group meetings and to support colleague’s work where we can.

Historically the group has focussed on the petrology, lithology, petrography and the chaînes opératoires of stone raw materials of Neolithic, Chalcolithic, and Bronze Age stone axes from the British Isles. However, while, much of the group’s activities still concern ground stone axes, the scope, expertise, and research interests of its members are broader. Today, members of the group are engaged in a wide range of research on the chaînes opératoires of both chipped and ground stone lithics and the exploitation of raw materials throughout prehistory of the British Isles and Europe. Moreover, they use a diverse suite of scientific methods (not just petrography) to study them. Consequently, the IPG has been and remains at the forefront of the study of lithic raw materials.

Through publications, meetings, and conferences it has made significant contributions to both the debates on and the development of best practice in the macroscopic, microscopic (e.g. microfossils, and particularly lithology and petrography) and geochemical methods of studying of lithics and raw materials.

In particular, the IPG has published three significant monographs Stone Axe Studies , II, and III, a conference proceedings in Internet Archaeology, several editions of the Stonechat newsletter, and convened conferences.

A key achievement of the IPG was it demonstrated the importance of Neolithic, Chalcolithic, and Bronze Age, axeheads in the British Isles and Europe.  It achieved this through the co-ordinating the petrological analysis on over 7,500 specimens from the British Isles and Europe (e.g. see Clough & Cumins 1979Clough & Cumins 1988; Davis & Edmonds 2011; Edmonds & Davis 2009; and several issues of Stonechat. It has, therefore, significantly advanced our understanding of the nature and distribution of these axeheads, the chaînes opératoires across the landscape. It is currently updating and collating this and new information into a new database that will be available soon.

If you would like to learn more about the IPG or work with us, please contact us here.

How to cite:

Preston, P. R., 2021. The Petrology Group. Implement Last Updated <the last modified date shown below>, Accessed <the date you last accessed this page>. URL:

Last Updated 26/01/2021