The final instalment of my series looks at an example very close to home for me!
The Cochno Stone
There are at least six thousand known prehistoric carved rocks in the United Kingdom and a similar amount in western mainland Europe. Doubtlessly, many more will have been lost in the millennia since their creation to elemental erosion and industrial development. In Scotland alone there are almost three thousand, created by communities between six and four thousand years ago. The Cochno Stone is near Glasgow and has been described as the most important of all the stones discovered in Europe, due to its size and the number of markings on it.
Dating back five thousand years, it was first identified as significant in the late 19th Century, and became a tourist attraction when Ludovic McLellan Mann, a local amateur archaeologist and apparently something of a buffoon, decided to use oil paints to colour them red, blue and yellow according to an obscure cosmology of his own devising (he liked his Ley lines).
The Cochno Stone looks a lot like the other stones across Scotland, decorated with abstract symbols: circular hollows nicknamed cups, as well as concentric rings, rosettes, and grooves. With the area becoming more densely urbanised in the 1960s, leading to vandalism and damage, the stone was buried without consultation or warning. It has remained hidden and largely forgotten, having been excavated once in the time since, in 2016, only to be re-buried after digital scans were taken.
Despite being so numerous and widespread, their original purpose, the message their creators intended, is unknown. The cultures that created these markings are lost to us forever, and we can only speculate on why they made such abstract art, instead of human or animal figures as in other parts of the world. Giving them latter-day “cosmic significance” does nothing to add to the conversation.
I hope you enjoyed this week of ancient art! I’ll be posting a combined article soon.
Take care of yourselves and have an excellent night, Avocado!