For many years past on both formal and informal occasions, archaeologists and others, including Mr W. F. Grimes (1932 and 1935) and Dr F. J. North (1938), have been stressing the importance of a scientific examination of the numerous stone axes in public and private collections. It has been urged that an exact determination of the rock material and its original provenance, together with a knowledge of the locality at which the tool was found, would lead to far wider and more exact information concerning early trade routes and other factors of economic and social importance in Neolithic and Early Bronze Age times.
A major hindrance to the realisation of these anticipations lay with owners who required the petrologist to identify the rocks by macroscopical characters alone. It was of little avail for the geologist to point out that grinding, polishing and patination had often obliterated the few surface features available and that even if fracturing of the specimen were allowed, no real progress could be made until a thin section of the axe was obtained. Pressed for an identification even on the above unsatisfactory grounds, geologists have at times given answers which are really little better than reasoned guesses, and the archaeologists have based some equally speculative deductions upon them.