In 1888 the Society of Antiquaries of London issued a circular to many archaeological societies, which began as follows:
‘In accordance with a request conveyed in a memorial from a large number of representative members of various Archaeological Societies throughout England and Wales, the President and Council of the Society of Antiquaries of London have resolved to summon a Congress of Delegates of the leading local Societies to be held in their Apartments at Burlington House on a day in the ensuing Autumn hereafter to be fixed.
‘Each Society will be requested to send not more than two Delegates to the Congress, the object of which will be to consider in what manner to promote:—
1. The better organization of antiquarian research, and
2. The preservation of ancient monuments and records.’
The year 1888, therefore, marks the actual birth of the Congress, although its first meeting was not held until 17th July, 1889.