Re-burying the secret
After painstakingy excavating, scanning and mapping the Cochno Stone, Dr Kenny Brophy and his team buried it away again last week.
The massive carved slab, which lies near a housing estate in West Dunbartonshire, dates back to 3000BC. The team's two week project uncovered the Bronze Age rock art for the first time since it was buried in 1965 to protect it from vandalism.
UofG archaeology students worked through the summer rains to remove hundreds of tons of mud, and drafted in the Scottish Fire Service for the final hose down. Once the stone was cleared, the students worked with digital scanning and mapping experts from the Factum Foundation, using cutting-edge 3D imaging technology to make a detailed digital replica of the site. This could shine more light on its history and purpose, the people who created the artwork 5,000 years ago, and the generations who have graffitied it since.
Dr Brophy described laying eyes on the stone as a once in a lifetime opportunity: 'The Cochno Stone is something I'd heard about as a boy. Historically it's well documented, but I wasn't able to see it until now.
'It is emotional when you've worked on a project like this - touched it, walked on it and closely examined it - to then rebury it. But for now that's what we have to do, to protect it from the elements.
Throughout the project Dr Brophy noticed a lot of public interest: 'Many local people came and visited the stone while we've been working here, and there does seem to be a strong opinion that it should be open for all to see and learn from.
'Perhaps in the future this site could be turned into a major Scottish tourist attraction with a visitor centre, who knows...'
First published: 22 September 2016