• The Cochno Stone was discovered in 1887 but was buried in 1965 by to protect it from damage by vandals
  • It has remained buried for 50 years on the edge of a tatty council housing estate near Clydebank, Scotland
  • High resolution scan will be used to record the surface of the 42 feet long slab of rock before it is reburied
  • Archaeologists hope to gain new insights into the carvings and perhaps unravel their mysterious meaning

Hidden within a scrap of woodland on the edge of a Scottish housing estate is one of Europe’s most important artworks.

Buried to protect it from vandals, a slab of rock etched with Stone Age carvings is perhaps one the UK’s most neglected prehistoric sites.

Yet now, nearly 50 years since it was buried, the 5,000-year-old Cochno Stone is to be re-excavated to allow archaeologists to study it.

Archaeologists are re-excavating a stone slab (pictured) that has some of the UK's most important rock art etched into its surface. Known as the Cochno stone, it was buried in 1965 by archaeologists to protect it from vandals

Archaeologists are re-excavating a stone slab (pictured) that has some of the UK’s most important rock art etched into its surface. Known as the Cochno stone, it was buried in 1965 by archaeologists to protect it from vandals

The stone, which measures 42 feet (13m) by 26 feet (8m), is covered in around 90 grooved spirals and indentations known as cup and rings.

The petroglyphs also include a ringed cross and a pair of four toed feet.

Researchers are now using cutting edge 3D imaging technology to record the ancient artwork to allow them to study it in more detail.

Dr Kenny Brophy, an urban archaeologist at the University of Glasgow who is leading the excavation, said it could help to shed new light on the markings and who made them.

Archaeologists studied the markings at the time they were uncovered, but it is hoped new imaging techniques will reveal new insights into how, when and even who made the markings

Archaeologists studied the markings at the time they were uncovered, but it is hoped new imaging techniques will reveal new insights into how, when and even who made the markings

He said: ‘This is the biggest and I would argue one of the most important Neolithic art panels in Europe.

‘The cup and ring marks are extensive but the site just happens to be in the middle of an urban housing scheme in Clydebank.

‘It was last fully open to the elements and the public up until 1965. 

‘Sadly as it was neglected it was also being damaged through vandalism and people just traipsing all over it.

‘It has been well recorded for archaeological purposes but we now feel the time, and the technology, is right to unearth it and see what new elements we can learn about its history and the people who created it.’

The huge 42 feet long stone slab was first discovered in 1887. It features around 90 cup and ball marks carved into its surface. the pictures above show the marks highlighted using white paint

The huge 42 feet long stone slab was first discovered in 1887. It features around 90 cup and ball marks carved into its surface. the pictures above show the marks highlighted using white paint

The excavation team will gather high resolution images of the surface of the stone using the same technology used to image Tutankhamun’s tomb, revealing evidence of a new chamber.

Once complete the stone will be reburied to keep it safe from harm.

Scientists believe the carvings (pictured) were made in around 3,000 BC but their meaning is lost in history 

Scientists believe the carvings (pictured) were made in around 3,000 BC but their meaning is lost in history


Discovered in 1887 by the Reverand James Harvey on a section of farmland near Clydebank in West Dunbartonshire, the Cochno Stone caused a sensation when it was unearthed. 

It began to suffer vandalism, however, after the local council built the Faifley housing estate on the neighbouring land.

Archaeologists feared the ancient rock carvings would be destroyed as people walked over the rock and added their own carvings to it.

Archaeologists chose to rebury the stone slab in 1965 after people were found to be walking all over it (pictured) and even vandalising it, damaging the important historic artwork


In 1965 archaeologist Ludovic Maclellan Mann decided to bury it under several feet of soil to protect it from further damage.

The new project will aim to use the high resolution images to unpick which of the carvings were caused by vandals before it was buried and which belong to the original.

Little is known about what cup and ring symbolise, but they are found in many rock art sites around Europe.

Experts are still not sure what the mystery symbols represent.

Some experts believe they may have been an ancient form of writing or recording events or perhaps a unit of measure.

Others have suggested they may be artworks that symbolise life and death. It is possible the Cochno stone was used in ancient Stone Age ceremonies.

Ferdinand Saumarez Smith, from the Factum Foundation for Digital Technology in Conservation, which is carrying out the imaging, said the images will also be used to create a replica of the stone slab that will go on display.

WHAT ARE CUP AND RINGS

Cup and ring marks are a form of prehistoric art found widely through out the world.

They consist of a round indentation – the cup – surrounded by a series of concentric circles that look like ripples on water.

The symbols date back to the Neolithic and early Bronze Age but some examples have been found to date from the Iron Age.

Some of the carvings have been found on boulders and outcrops overlooking major routes, hunting grounds or water-holes which has led to suggestions they are perhaps used to mark these spots.

Others have suggested they could be a mark of territorial ownership.

Later examples have been found in association with burial or ceremonial sites, suggesting they may have a sacred importance.

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27 Comments

Philippa Rogers · August 1, 2017 at 8:31 pm

Looks like something you would find in a crop circle.

Caroline Hartgrove · August 1, 2017 at 1:00 am

We will be back ..!!!!! ???? Wow.maybe map.?.

Mehmet Kuş · July 31, 2017 at 11:55 pm

APOLLO11 mission land side this sembol i see. And google delete pictures

Miguel Villalon Jr · July 31, 2017 at 11:54 pm

Is it a map?

Béllatrix Alnilam · May 31, 2017 at 5:20 pm

Y a t il des astronomes qui travaillent sur cette pierre avec les archéologues ?

Francis FitzGerald · May 31, 2017 at 12:25 am

…maybe it’s an original highland fling, dance-step guide

Roy Morris · May 30, 2017 at 10:07 pm

Is this real??

    Frank Murphy · May 30, 2017 at 11:30 pm

    Yeah it’s just about 10 miles from were I stay ..

    Roy Morris · May 30, 2017 at 11:33 pm

    Wow I would like to see this in person one day.. Thanks Frank Murphy

Michael Leger · May 30, 2017 at 6:21 pm

Kool awesome

Patty Estep Thompson Long · April 7, 2017 at 1:31 pm

Very cool post

Vania Toledo · April 6, 2017 at 8:47 pm

Thats cool

Lucy Lucy-laisa Bruni · April 6, 2017 at 8:14 pm

Amazing

Ben Smith · April 6, 2017 at 5:17 pm

ALEINS came here to spread knowledge so we become a intelligent species

Trevor Jet Jungle · April 6, 2017 at 4:41 pm

So have we figered out where the hell we are ? hahah

Will Cardinal · March 18, 2017 at 6:30 pm

Love it

Will Cardinal · March 18, 2017 at 6:30 pm

Love it

Angelito Arocha · March 18, 2017 at 9:39 am

We are not alone,

Anna Smith · March 18, 2017 at 8:57 am

Jaywho Mcdon · March 18, 2017 at 8:43 am

Give it to the government they can sell out anything

Damon Cook · March 18, 2017 at 2:32 am

Look, they lived off the land. No 9 to 5 gig for these folks. What would you do with your free time? Doodle! Quit trying to over think this folks.

Eve Burton · March 18, 2017 at 12:37 am

Didn’t the aborigines use spirals on rocks to show where water sources were? Maybe something similar?

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