The Cochno Stone, which is found in West Dunbartonshire, Scotland, is thought to contain the finest example of Bronze Age cup and ring carvings in all of Europe. It features dozens of grooved spirals, carved indentations, geometric shapes, and cryptic patterns of many different kinds. The stone, which is near a housing development, was buried in 1965 to safeguard it from damage.
The Neolithic or Bronze Age cup and ring engravings on the Cochno Stone, which dates to 3000 BC, are among the greatest ones found in Europe. The stone, which is 42 feet by 26 feet, was first uncovered in 1887 on farmland close to what is now the Faifley housing complex on the outskirts of Clydebank by the Rev. James Harvey. More than 90 carved indentations, also referred to as “cup and ring” marks, are all over it.
Cup and ring marks are a type of prehistoric art that consists of a slight concave depression carved into a rock surface that is frequently surrounded by concentric circles that are likewise etched into the stone. Two pairs of carved footprints, each with only four toes, and an etched pre-Christian cross are also present alongside these symbols on the Cochno stone, which are thought to have been made around 3,000 BC. The Cochno Stone has been recognized as being of national importance and designated as a scheduled monument due to its variety of markings.
The Cochno Stone endured recurrent vandalism during the 1960s, in addition to human traffic. Therefore, in 1964, Glasgow University archaeologist Ludovic Maclellan Mann advised that it had to be buried to prevent future damage. Since then, the stone has been buried, and it is now encircled by trees and covered with vegetation. (Source)
Many suggestions have been proposed to explain what the purpose of these carvings on Cochno Stone could be, despite the fact that it is now unknown. Archaeologists are unable to confirm what is precisely painted on the large slab, which includes stars and planets. Researchers have not made a firm conclusion regarding the significance of the complex symbols found on its surface. Is it a sky map or a map of the ground? Or was it an altar used for rituals?
There are various explanations for the carvings, according to history researcher Alexander McCallum. “Some people think that the Cochno Stone is a map showing the other settlements in the Clyde Valley – that’s one of the theories. I think it was probably used for lots of things; it was never used for just one thing and over hundreds of years it changed use,” said McCallum. “As far as the symbolism goes, some believe it’s a portal, of life and death, rebirth, a womb and a tomb – people believed in reincarnation, so they would go into the earth and then come out again.”
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He said it was also possible the stone had been used in sacrificial ceremonials, with milk or water poured into the grooves and channels as offerings, or that the markings were astronomical maps, showing constellations that guided prehistoric farmers’ crop sewing. Mr McCallum said similar carvings had been found around the world, including in Hawaii, India and Africa, while in Scotland they tended to be found along the west coast near the sea or rivers, often close to copper mines.
Dr. Kenneth Brophy of Glasgow University has been researching the Ludovic MacLellan Mann and Ronald Morris archival holdings. Although they were both “amateur” archaeologists, these two individuals contributed significantly to the study and documentation of the Scottish Cochno Stone.
Dr. Brophy has been studying the archive information amassed regarding the Cochno Stone, and his thorough research has finally turned up previously unknown photos of the stone. More than 100 ancient symbols have been etched into the Stone. (Source)
Mann sketched the outline of these symbols in 1937 using oil paints, but he also added his own lines and other markings. Evidence of those paint lines could still be seen around the stone’s edges, where flora had partially hidden them when it was temporarily revealed in 2015. The public will perhaps be able to see this wonderful stone once more in the future, possibly in a built structure that would protect it.
Over 400 rock art locations in Scotland were cataloged by Ronald Morris, who also published part of his work. Morris’s meticulously written records, which are stored by Historic Environment Scotland, have been made available to Dr. Brophy. Morris’ notes, pictures, and other records, which are rich in information, have not been digitalized. Morris used chalk instead of paint to create these magnificent rock art structures, which he then photographed. Additionally, he rubbed the markings. Future research on this incredible resource may lead to the rediscovery of the whereabouts of rock art stones.
The Cochno Stone has been repeatedly researched, reburied, and unburied by archaeologists in recent years. In the hopes that the vast quantity of information they have been able to gather may help other academics in their quest to understand these cryptic old lines, they excavated the site and utilized contemporary surveying and photography (3D-imaging technologies) to capture the artwork. As a result, the Cochno Stone’s significance is still a mystery.