THE renowned Cochno Stone was uncovered for the first time in half a century last week.

A team of archaeology students from Glasgow University revealed a small part of the stone for the first time since it was buried by archaeologists in 1964.

The Cochno Stone, in Auchnacraig Park, Faifley, is one of the largest and most spectacular panels of prehistoric rock-art in Britain.

The markings on the stone’s surface were probably carved between 3000 and 2000BC, a period known as the Late Neolithic and early Bronze Age.

The carvings were first recorded in the 1880s and included dozens of hollows, better known as cup-marks, and concentric circles, known as cup-and-ring marks.

Other markings include spirals, and a pair of feet each with four toes, which may be Victorian additions to the rock outcrop.

The Cochno Stone was buried beneath up to one metre of soil in 1964 by archaeologists due to fears of vandalism and graffiti on the rock, and damage caused by visitors walking over the rock-art.

Last week, a small section of the Cochno Stone was exposed when archaeologists removed the topsoil over a small section of the rock.

Dr Kenny Brophy of University of Glasgow’s archaeology department, said: “Apart from seeing the stone for the first time, the most exciting aspect of our dig was to meet so many local people who were passionate about the Cochno Stone and the prehistoric heritage of Faifley.

“Hopefully we can raise the funds to uncover the stone and make the replica so that Glaswegians can once again enjoy this internationally important rock-art.” The rock does not seem to have been damaged by being covered up, and the team discovered several impressive cup-and-rings marks in very good condition.

Evidence of modern graffiti was also found, with the name ‘B Docherty’ and a series of initials dated to what looks like 1905, while a black blob on the surface of the rock appears to be melted plastic, or tar. This may be the kind of graffiti that prompted the burial of the Stone back in 1964. There was a lot of excitement amongst the team and visitors to the site at this first glimpse of the stone for 51 years.

The excavation is the first step in a collaborative project between Glasgow University and Spanish digital heritage company Factum Arte, to uncover the Cochno Stone completely and create an exact replica based on a highly accurate laser survey of the stone’s surface. It is hoped that this replica can be located in Auchnacraig Park.

The whole project is being documented by award-winning Glaswegian film-maker May Miles Thomas, who directed the 2013 film The Devil’s Plantation which features the Cochno Stone. Many locals visited the site during the excavation, some of whom have been running a campaign to have the Cochno Stone uncovered.