At the height of the Second World War the Institute of Archaeology hosted a conference in London to map out the post-war future for archaeology. Over a bank-holiday weekend in August 1943 several hundred archaeologists – amateurs, professionals, academics, civil servants and refugees – debated the future of archaeology. The discussion ranged across fields as diverse as the British Schools of Archaeology abroad, Islamic urban archaeology, licences for excavators, and the need for a national card-index of archaeological sites. Two themes loomed over the event: the question of state funding and control of archaeology caused considerable controversy; whereas the need for greater public engagement and education in archaeology enjoyed near-universal approval. Today the proceedings of the conference are a rich, illuminating and often amusing snapshot of British archaeology at a pivotal moment in its development.