There have been antiquarian and archaeological organisations in Cornwall since 1818. The Royal Institution of Cornwall (RIC) was amongst the earliest county society and today is the county archive for archaeological collections.
The Penzance Natural History and Antiquarian Society (PNHAS) provided the forum for fieldwork and research in West Penwith (1839 -1872 and 1880 -1961) particularly from the 1850s onwards. The Cornwall Excavations Committee (1931-1939) was set up by the RIC to excavate Porthmeor courtyard house settlement. This resulted in the formation of the West Cornwall Field Club (WCFC) in 1936.
In 1961 the PNHAS finally folded and the WCFC transformed itself into the countywide Cornwall Archaeological Society (CAS). Over more than 50 years CAS has grown with the public’s interest in archaeology. Now with over 450 members, the Society offers a great range of walks, talks and annual conferences; research and fieldwork projects; regular newsletters and an academic journal.
In 1975 CAS sponsored the setting up of the Cornwall Committee for Rescue Archaeology, which later become the local authority Cornwall Archaeological Unit and then the Historic Environment Service. Since then the Society has worked closely with Cornwall Council and Historic England and members regularly take part in fieldwork and help monitor heritage at risk.