COCHNO STONES, Auchnacraig Park, Auchnacraig Road, Faifley, near to the Cochno farm.
ACCESS : The site is within a park and readily accessible. Off-road motor bikes may startle you. What you can see of the stones is limited to two. They are often overgrown, but recent efforts have been made to keep them reasonably accessible.
///announce.bombshell.expressed Auchnacraig Road entrance to the park on south side. Walk through the carpark and turn right. Cross the road and you are now in the park.
///peanut.pronouns.poses Cochno carpark on north side.
///repaying.lunging.stem Location of visible stone. A second stone is close by under the trees.
The Cochno Stones are very mysterious. They are a fine concentration of cup and ring marks across flat rock. This type of marking is widespread across Scotland, but this here is exceptional. No one today really knows what they represent. Are they celestial maps? Or simply symbols of demarcation of land ownership? Or are they ritual sites with perhaps sacred liquid in the "cups". Or do the concentric circles signify people or past ancestors or spirits? One theory suggested on our website is that in days of old lichen that grew in concentric circles was widespread. Such lichen is seen elsewhere in West Dunbartonshire, but is now very rare. Some lichen is a know hallucinogenic. Imagine our ancetral soothsayers getting into trances under such intoxication and then conversing with ancestors before them. To prepare such a drug they would use the rocks as giant mortars with pestles. In time the natural hollows in the parent rock would become neatly rounded and perhaps others were carved out. The symbolism of the intoxicating ring lichen would be reproducecd around the central hollow or cup. Sometimes an unadorned cup. Sometimes encircled with one or more rings. Sometimes such features would be linked by carved lines.
The main and most impressive stone is unfortunately hidden from view, buried for its safety. A lesser nearby one is readily viewed, although is very disappointing. Only two hollows are evident. Have a look a little to your left almost under some trees. There is another one with more pronouced "cups". As for the rings, you just have to have faith that there are some somewhere.
This stone is exposed and visible. Unfortunately vandalism, wear from visitors standing on it and moss allow little of the cup and ring features to be seen.
This is the stone that is tucked in under some trees. The "cup" marks are easy to see. Paul Murdoch in his book The 'Nature' of West Dunbartonshire, identifies a human figure carved into the rock. It was not noticed by us, but that may well be due to the light and vegetation at the time. It is mysteriously similar to the one described under CORNSTONE WORKINGS index.asp?pageid=717865
In this and the following photos you can see the cup surrounded by concentric circles
Discovered in 1887 by the Rev. James Harvey, the ancient stone measures 13 meters by 7.9, and features around 90 intricate carvings—considered as one of the finest sets of petroglyphs in Scotland—which according to many researchers represent a cosmic map, detailing planets and stars.
John Bruce writing in 1893 (see reference below) gives an interesting account of these and other prehistoric remains in the area. This was the time of Mr A. W. Donnelly, the well known artist. He gained some repute for his investigations and recordings of such features. He was also the subject of attempts to dispute the validity of his work - but that is another story. -
The majority of images that we have of the Cochno Stone originate from the 1937 visit of the archaeologist Ludovic Maclellan Mann, who strikingly painted in the markings to illustrate his ‘archaeo-astronomical’ theories of their meaning. Needless to say, this is not practice that would be acceptable today! In addition to this, in the absence of consensus among experts as to what they actually mean, the cup-and-ring markings are arguably (as much as anything else) examples of Neolithic graffiti. These factors of the story pose fascinating questions about the contemporary worlds relationship to its ancient past and who it belongs to. [Factum Foundation].
In exploring the site of the FAERIE KNOWE index.asp?pageid=715915 on Carman Muir, we came across a lichen on the side of a rock that looked just like these ring marks. It had tight concentric circles. It is known that some lichen were used for medicinal purposes. While not unknown elsewhere, it seems that this neatly arranged pattern of circles in a lichen is not that common. Was it believed to have had special properties, perhaps hallucinatory? If so, were these carved rings representative of them? And the carved "cups" recepticles? index.asp?pageid=715915
We may never know the real reasons, but we can speculate.
The following three photos are used here with permission of the University of Glasgow. ©
Water has been used to highlight the concentric circles.
University of Glasgow. ©
Some unfortunate graffiti is shown alongside one of the concentric ring engravings.
University of Glasgow. ©
This photo illustrates the scale and complexity of the main stone.
University of Glasgow. ©
This is an extract from a 3D scan of the surface of the Cochno Stone.
Factum Arte and Historic Environment Scotland. ©
A visit in August 2022 showed this remaining exposed stone cleared of vegetation.
But while ancient fascination with fire is perpetuated, the failure of modern day respect and ritual associated with such sacred sites has become almost unbearable.
ANCIENT CODE website : https://www.ancient-code.com/the-cochno-stone-a-massive-5000-year-old-cosmic-map/
BRUCE, JOHN, History of the Parish of West or Old Kilpatrick and of the Church and certain lands in the Parish of East or New Kilpatrick. 1893. Republished by the Clydebank District Libaries and Museums Department, 1995. ISBN096938112. (Reference above p 319).
FACTUM FOUNDATION website : https://www.factumfoundation.org/pag/234/Cochno-Stone-Test-Excavation This has an excellent illustration record.
LIVE SCIENCE website : https://www.livescience.com/56287-ancient-cochno-stone-reburied.html#:~:text=The%20Cochno%20Stone%2C%20which%20measures%2043%20feet%20by,at%20other%20prehistoric%20sites%20around%20the%20world%3B%20however%2C
SOCANTSCOT website with a video talk by Kenneth Brophy : https://www.socantscot.org/resource/revealing-the-cochno-stone-by-dr-kenneth-brophy/ In this video Kenneth Brophy talks about when the main marked stones were briefly exposed for research and recording.
THE URBAN PREHISTORIAN blog. https://theurbanprehistorian.wordpress.com/category/cochno-stone/
WEST DUNBARTONSHIRE HERITAGE TRAIL : DUNTOCHER, HARDGATE AND FAIFLEY : https://www.west-dunbarton.gov.uk/media/2619071/duntocher.pdf
WIKIPEDIA : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cochno_Stone