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Devil's Plantation - Elemental Films

the devil’s plantation: trip twenty five

posted on
7 September 08

Cup And Ring

For almost a year now I’ve travelled by bus, car, underground and on foot, cataloguing the oddest corners of Glasgow. I’ve climbed barbed wire fences, walked along the edges of motorways, staggered up hills with my camera kit and sheltered from the rain in more cemeteries than I care to remember. I’ve walked around housing schemes, visited parks and shopping malls, peed on sacred ground, in fields and in woods. I’ve set up my camera in places where murders and suicides have been committed, stood in disused buildings and at least one castle, followed the course of rivers and railway lines and watched twenty-storey buildings collapse before my eyes. I’ve looked at boulders, statues and signposts with the same curiosity, incomprehension and wonder.

It occurs to me I’m making a strange kind of road movie and I haven’t quite run out of road yet. I’ve eight more trips to make before I reach my target – the magic number of 33. But road movies demand a sidekick, so today I take my husband along. Just as well he’s an expert map-reader since I refuse to buy into sat-nav for this project, preferring the same method Harry Bell used when he set out on his journeys in the 1980s in order to test his theory of Glasgow’s Secret Geometry. He talks of the hidden, now invisible tracks across the city. After this trip I think I know where he’s coming from.

field near Faifley

Today the weather’s capricious, the early September sunshine replaced by a wet grey blanket of sky as we emerge from the Clyde Tunnel heading towards my next site – the approximate location of the Cochno Stone near Faifley, a housing scheme north of Clydebank and west of Drumchapel. On the Clydebank Story website I learn how Faifley was originally named Fimbalach, said to mean The White Pass – intriguing as placenames go, you might think, but as I’m about to discover, the whereabouts of the Cochno Stone is a mystery.

As the website states –

Evidence of man’s prehistoric settlement in the area was found at Auchnacraig in 1887 when the Reverend James Harvey discovered the Druid (or Cochno) Stone. This sandstone rock, some 60 feet in diameter has, possibly, the finest “cup and ring” carvings in existence.

If so, this demands further investigation.

section Cochno Stone

However the problem with the past is it can too easily be rendered invisible, its artefacts – or lack of – determined by which end of the social spectrum you inhabit. Whenever I read biographies of the great and good, I always note the reverence accorded to their childhood homes, schools, universities and other significant landmarks – places still standing, usually in the form of a rural Home Counties pile, an Oxbridge college, a London office, or some blue-plaqued terrace.

It saddens me that virtually every building I ever lived, studied or worked in has either been razed or converted beyond recogition. It’s sad, not because I nurse some wrong headed working class nostalgia for the slums of Kinning Park, Tradeston and Plantation, or jerry-built flats in desolate schemes, or the lack of architectural aspiration of the schools and churches I once attended. I don’t.

What depresses me is the societal status quo typified by this nation’s attitude to its past, manifest in its buildings. I despair of the immovable certitude by which the establishment values certain structures, those that applaud the ancient, those preserving the bricks and mortar of the privileged and, more recently, buildings listed not for reasons of aesthetic merit, but purely for their celebrity provenance – the suburban home of a Beatle, say. And in doing so the arbiters, no – monopolisers – of the past claim a democratisation of culture that these days promotes the lie of inclusion, like somehow we’re all being catered for, when, I suspect, the majority of us don’t care too deeply.

Of course I’d be lying myself if I didn’t admit that the loss of my old haunts makes me feel – profoundly – that a part of me has been erased, that I have no history, that no part of my world is worth preserving. Judging by the stats for this site and similar websites I’ve read, it strikes me how many people, particularly ex-pats, crave some contact with their past no matter how dark and deprived their past was.

Ringstone Kennels

Negotiating the back roads, we arrive at a car park surrounded by scrubby woodland. It never fails to amaze me how quickly the city merges into the rural. It strikes me I’m in a kind of Badlands, in spite of the recent wild landscaping. Irrational maybe, but on this dreich afternoon as we walk, we believe we’re about to find the Cochno Stone. Guided by the map, we walk along a narrow, unmarked road with detached houses on one side. The only vehicle passing us is a 4×4. We pause at an encouraging sign, Ringstone Kennels, before arriving at a junction. There’s a muddy farm track to the left and single-track tarmac road to the right. Heading right, fifty yards or so later we spot a track with a phallic post marked Auchnacraig.

post Auchnacraig

We’re close, my other half tells me, he in charge of the map. We follow the track running round the back of the houses we passed earlier. There’s signs of recent landscaping here, freshly spread aggregate and plastic drainage pipes. The track is fringed on both sides with tall bracken. Veering off, we spot a clearing only to find it littered with a bizarre assortment of objects: a jimmy wig, a cheap duvet, an empty bottle of liver-corroding cider. Some party, I say. Defeated in our quest, we return to the path and walk the last few yards back to the main road we came in on. We’re tantalisingly close to the site of Cochno Stone, but I’ve already given up. I know by the evidence – the new landscaping and dense growth – there’s nothing to be found here.

Jimmy wig in the grass

There’s another place we could go, suggests my sidekick. Sure, I say, but I’m not enthusiastic. A short, bumpy drive later we arrive at a place marked on the map as Law which turns out to be not even a village but a bunch of falling-down structures, mainly outbuildings, with the usual accompaniment of rusting oil drums, spare-part machinery and old tractor tyres. The ideal location for a cheap horror film, you’d think, where attractive young females are tortured in the pornographic guise of entertainment. Come on, cajoles the husband, marching ahead of me up a muddy track. He’s not even dressed for this kind of excursion. We’re close to some kind of electrical generation junction, a sub-station of sorts. Overhead pylons crackle and buzz in the disconcerting way of a cheap horror movie.

pylons Law

Just when I thought it was safe, after a futile tramp through mud, we encounter the perfect antagonist, a middle-aged, blue boiler-suited man in thick-lensed glasses. He carries a paint tray with a roller, an act of optimism against impossible odds given the state of the place. Now I’m slightly worried that I’m the one starring in a horror movie. Fumbling for excuses I tell the man about my ‘history’ project and my search for the Cochno Stone. What he tells me makes the trip worthwhile. Turns out the stone was examined to the nth degree by the Archaeological Department of Glasgow University and, after measuring and scrutinising it, they took their photographs – marking the cup and ring marks with chalk to get a better view. Then, the man told me, the academics parting shot was to bury the stone under a metre of soil. Why? I enquire.

The man’s none too sure but hazards a guess. To stop it being vandalised. By people in Faifley? I suggest. He’s not saying, which means he’s saying. He tells me how the folk from the University also uncovered prehistoric settlements on his land, the site of a house, including markings where ancient supporting timbers once stood. ‘They’ (the academics) can tell this, he says, adding, and they found other stones, but I doubt you’d find them now. After thanking the man for his information, as we drive off my already low mood shifts to an unfocused rage. Suddenly I feel like organising an excavation of my own, me and the so-called neds of Faifley.


While I digest this knowledge, my husband suggests we move on to the next site of the day within easy reach – the elusive Duncolm. We take a detour to Cochno Farm, owned by Glasgow University as a training college for veterinarian medicine, only to be deterred by signs warning us off the land. Now I’m beginning to think vile thoughts about Glasgow University. Not content with occupying countless buildings across the city, the university deems itself an authority when deciding what we, the people, get to see of our past. As much as I’m sure they adhere to laws and protocols when dealing with ancient sites, it seems the public has no say in the matter because we’re never told of their existence. That is, unless there’s funding to be found. Otherwise it’s a free pass for supermarkets and out-of-town retail congloms to bulldoze their way through ancient sites, as in the case of Braehead IKEA. That a site must be ‘protected’ and ‘preserved’, either by relocating artefacts or, in this case, burying them to the exclusion of the masses is, I think, a particularly pointed act of vandalism, having already witnessed the recent archaeological goings-on in Pollok Estate.


A short drive back towards Hardgate brings us to a pitted single-track road. On one side is a water tower reminiscent of the German landscape photographers, the Bechers. A little further on we spot a sign for Cochnohill, an area of Forestry Commission land. Passing a family out riding we reach the point where road runs out. It’s still a long way to Duncolm but by this stage even my husband’s lost the will to go on. The hill will have to wait until another day.

Antonine Road

Driving back, we pause at the site of a Roman hillfort, close to an enclave of smart semi-detached houses, all clipped hedges and gates. How we cling to our own little pieces of property, I think. The street sign says Antonine Road, a clue to an earlier occupation. The north west of the city and its borders are full of old Roman remains, more so it seems than the south. How come, I think, did the Romans prefer Bearsden to Newton Mearns? Later, while reading up about the Cochno Stone I chance on a rare photograph of the mythic rock and an account of its discovery, a dry old text showing carefully-wrought but no less mysterious illustrations of the markings, looking for all the world like a map of the universe itself. It’s awe-inspiring. Why, I wonder, was it called the Druid Stone? When was it made? Who made it and why did they make it? But mostly I think, why can’t I see it for myself?

Leave a Reply

  • Peter Elliott - 7 January 18 at 4:43 pm - Reply

    I received a calendar from Mr McGill SNP, explaining the Druids Temple at the top of Riddell Street.Confirming my recollection of playing around the Druid Mounds.You did mention Mr Mann.I am adding the details to my story of Riddell Street round about the 1940,s.thank you.

    Peter Elliott.

  • Peter Elliott - 22 December 17 at 5:40 pm - Reply

    I did not write “devils folly”,I wrote Druids Folly,the story of a Gentleman I believe to be Napier a farmer on the north side of Great Western Road.Who built the shapes similar to druid symbels,they were cleared to make way for the high flats that still stand there today.

    Peter Elliott

    • May Miles Thomas - 24 December 17 at 11:23 am - Reply

      Thanks Peter,

      Apologies for getting the name wrong.

      Best wishes for the season.


  • Peter Elliott - 7 December 17 at 10:07 pm - Reply

    I have lived in Riddell Street ,North Drumry ,Clydebank from 1937 to present time,and seen many changes.I played amongst German Prisoners of war as they dug the foundations for the houses running up the left hand side of Riddell Street.I played in the Druids Folly across from McNairs farm,looking over Great Western Road.I have tried to find photographs of Riddell Street round about the forties,to no avail.I have drawn scale views of Riddell Street as I remember it,from Kilbowie Road up Riddell Street to Great Western Road.I have left copies of same to Clydebank Library.I have written my life story ,it is in book form thanks to my Grandchildren.However as it primarily for our family it is not for publication.

    • May Miles Thomas - 8 December 17 at 10:50 am - Reply

      Hello Peter,

      Thanks for your comment. Only last night I watched the TV show about the Blitz on BBC2 about Clydebank and thought of how people must have suffered. I had no idea that German POWs were based in the area. I’ve never heard of the ‘Devil’s Folly’ either. My search was for the Cochno, or Druid Stone as it was called. Where exactly is it? I’m sure Dr Kenny Brophy at Glasgow University would be interested in hearing your account of the area. He’s been very active in the excavation at Cochno – you may have read about in the Clydebank Post. Let me know if you want to be in touch with him and I can get a contact for you,

      Best wishes,

  • Ray - 28 October 17 at 7:55 pm - Reply

    I left a comment once before but it didnt get onto the website. I have found that any enquiries that I have made about two previously unknown sites which I reported to Clydebank District in the late 1980s have been either ignored or promises to get back to me on the subject have not been kept. Maybe I should take my information to the papers? If I get no feedback soon I shall keep the information to myself as no-one seems interested!

    • May Miles Thomas - 28 October 17 at 8:41 pm - Reply

      Hi Ray,

      Your previous comment was published on my Cochno Stone post on May 20th 2017 and I replied to you on the same day, so I don’t understand why you think the comment didn’t make it to the website. I publish ALL relevant comments and keep a record of them. You may wish to check the Cochno Stone post.

  • Nuala - 26 January 17 at 10:46 pm - Reply

    My grandfather talked about it a lot and I only know what he told me, our family lived In duntocher and hardgate for a few generations now.
    I saw mention of a broken stone in the comments. What he told me when i was young there were two stones originally, the one in faifley (covered to protect it from vandals) and one broken he thought during the making of great Western Road I think close to the druid temple.

    He said they were linked to the serpent and sun temple discovered I believe in the 30s now behind goals you can still see some of the layout and the sand filled excavations. Iv never seen the stone and I’m sorry I missed the uncovering. He talked of a tunnel that lead from one to the other that was filled in. I don’t know how much of it was urban legend but the story always fascinated me as it would a child finding our about the ancient burials and temples.

    • May Miles Thomas - 27 January 17 at 12:10 pm - Reply

      Thanks for posting. I never knew about the other stone – and the tunnel! I’d be interested to learn more about it.


  • seanah - 1 October 16 at 2:25 pm - Reply

    Please read, The Pistis Sophia and the Books of IEOU to see what the symbols mean… PLEASE, STOP calling these, “The Devil’s Plantation” It is that of creation…

    • May Miles Thomas - 1 October 16 at 7:46 pm - Reply

      Dear Seanah,

      I’ve only approved your comment because I want those following this blog to be aware of what you’ve written. I have not approved the previous two comments you have attempted to post here because you have provided no explanation of why your links to the Gnostic Library have any connection with the content of this blog.

      Firstly, I have no idea who or where you are but for someone in search of knowledge you display little with regard to the origins and purpose of this project. The title ‘The Devil’s Plantation’ is the placename of a tumulus in south-east Glasgow. In Scots it is also known as ‘The Deil’s Plantin.’ I used the name for this project because it was the first site that Harry Bell claimed was useful for his investigations into his theory that the Glasgow area was laid out to a speciific geometry.

      Secondly, in answer to your shouty CAPITAL LETTER request, I will not stop calling ‘these’ by that name because I will not deny my own cultural heritage. By ‘these’ I assume you mean cup and ring markings on the Cochno Stone.

      If you wish to engage with this project and communicate with me, a little courtesy would go a long way.

      Go in Peace

  • Jessie Boyd - 28 September 16 at 7:02 pm - Reply

    Working my way through your notes for Voyageuse – good luck with it May!
    “Life is a Story”….. I read that someplace

    • May Miles Thomas - 1 October 16 at 8:22 pm - Reply

      Thanks Jessie,

      I would have replied sooner but I’ve been in Edinburgh this past week to record the score for Voyageuse. Thanks for reading my new blog. It would be great if you left a wee comment on it – it would mean a lot to me. I really hope my film will resonate with a lot of people, especially women like us, of a certain age!

      All the best,

  • Jessie Boyd - 26 September 16 at 2:51 pm - Reply

    Hi May
    My sister Anne Scott in Queensland has some earlier comments here in connection with the Druid Stone, as it was known to us locals. It was indeed me (pink jacket) you spoke to at the stone while you were photographing it recently…in your socks, ha ha… as I recall! I told you I had known of the stone from family walks in the 50’s and early 60’s and remembered the stone well, also the disappearance of it and how upsetting that was for us to accept.. that we wouldn’t see it again.

    You told me your story at the time but I really only learned of your efforts over the years when my sister insisted I have another look at your website and blogs (your Test Dig Vimeo is a real gem.. so this is just a little note to thank you on behalf of all of us, especially folks like myself who actually saw the stone in our younger days (jumped up and down on it, I confess) and to say how much we appreciate you initiating this whole project. I won’t forget my visit last week when we met and I was able to see for a last time, something that’s remained vividly in my mind since childhood.

    • May Miles Thomas - 28 September 16 at 8:23 am - Reply

      Thanks for that, Jessie – much appreciated. Right now I’m in Edinburgh working on the score for my new film – – have a look!

      All the best

  • andyboyle - 30 August 16 at 11:31 pm - Reply

    went to see the site today.So different from last years test dig,all ferns cleared at least 2 metres from old protection wall ,can see the size of the full site ,so big.I met yo last year may and hope to see you from the 5th

    • May Miles Thomas - 31 August 16 at 6:21 am - Reply

      Thanks Andy

      I remember meeting you. In fact I just gave Ferdinand your mobile number because he asked me for contacts of people who visited the site last year. I won’t be involved in the dig this time – I’m working on a new film so won’t have the time to be there but I’ll visit the Stone when it’s been excavated and take a few shots for my own purposes. Maybe see you there?

      Al the best,

  • Helen campbell - 16 April 16 at 9:39 pm - Reply

    Hi, I used to live At Glen Elbon, the first bungalow you come across from the car park at edinbarnet house. Going up and round the bend, it’s the first house on the left. Two before ringstone kennels. The house is now called Silverfirs I believe. Our house had three acres and at the bottom of the garden looking towards erskine, we had the Cup and Ring Markings, they were covered over but the historic Scotland society came and checked them I think every year. It we only lived in the house over 3 years.

    • May Miles Thomas - 17 April 16 at 10:14 am - Reply

      Thanks for your comment, Helen. That’s very interesting. I don’t kow when exactly you lived in the house but I know from the current owner that they moved there in the 1980s. I know that Historic Scotland have checked the site in the past due to its status as an ancient monument. I also believe there’s a lot of local interest in the Stone since its burial in 1965 (not 1964 as I stated in this blog).

      This blog post seems to have attracted more comments than the many others I’ve written over the years. If you read my later posts, you’ll see that I was contacted by the owner of Silverfirs, David Marks some years ago. He expressed a desire to see the Stone uncovered, even if just temporarily. Sadly he passed away before this could happen.

      In the last two years the idea of uncovering the Stone has been revived. In 2014 I was contacted by a company called Factum Arte to see whether I would be interested in a bid to unearth the Stone with a view to scanning and replicating it. Last year I took part in a test dig supervised by Glasgow University Archaelology Department. I made a short film about it. You can view it via this link –

      I understand the current owner of Silverfirs has now granted permission for a full-scale excavation to take place, subject to funding. In that event Historic Scotland and West Dunbartonshire Council will oversee the process.

      Many thanks again, Helen. I’m sure if the Stone is uncovered, it will be newsworthy so look out for developments,

  • Yvonne Keegan - 3 April 16 at 7:11 pm - Reply

    Did you know Archaeology at Glasgow University dug up the Druid Stone and re-covered it? If you google it you should get the story.

    • May Miles Thomas - 4 April 16 at 7:52 am - Reply

      Hi Yvonne
      Thanks but I don’t need to google it – I was there! I’m one of the parties involved and I made a short film about it – you can find it here –
      All the best,

  • Shan - 28 March 15 at 3:59 pm - Reply

    I have a photo of my mum on the stone back in March 1950 (her wedding day). She also spoke about the stone and said it had been broken up.

    • May Miles Thomas - 29 March 15 at 12:16 am - Reply

      Hi Shan, Do you have the photo? I’d love to see it because I’m hoping to get a film made about the stone so anything that shows it – and nore importantly – the people who knew it and lived next to it would be more than welcome. Please let me know if I could see your Mum’s picture.

      Thanks, May

      • shan - 24 August 15 at 3:13 pm - Reply

        Yes, I have the photograph. Shall I email you it?

  • mari graham - 28 April 14 at 6:15 am - Reply

    Dear May,

    the Cochno Stone has intrigued me for years – we used to stay at the Kennels Cottage and my husband is from Faifley. I’ve tried to find out where the stone actually is and have always thought it would be a good thing for WDC to lift the turf once in a lifetime so that we could actually see this piece of rock art which is meant to be one of the finest.
    I hope you’re still doing your research, would love to hear from you.


    • May Miles Thomas - 28 April 14 at 7:27 am - Reply

      Hi Mari,

      Thanks for commenting. Reading back all the other comments on this post it strikes me that there’s a lot of interest in the old Druid Stone. I don’t know if you saw my later blog post on the subject – Making the Movie:6 – about my meeting David Marks, who had the Stone buried on part of his land and my attempts to persuade the local council and Historic Scotland to excavate the Stone – even temporarily. Just at the point where HS were about to conduct a site survey, sadly Mr. Marks died. I know he was keen to see the stone and was worried that it may be damaged by root growth. As I say in my blog, I didn’t feel I could pursue the matter any further, out of respect for both his memory and for Mrs. Marks.

      I still feel though that it could be an amazing and worthwhile project but right now I’m working on another film that’s equally research-intense so can’t devote the time and effort needed to pursue it. If only the council could see the value of unearthing the Druid Stone, even for conservation purposes, it would attract a lot of interest.

      Best wishes,

  • Stephen Pearson - 22 November 13 at 6:36 pm - Reply

    David Marks who owns the house silverfirs, says there buried between his boundary and the councils at auchinacraig estate then that’s where they will be! I know mr Marks from I was a kid and they are better off staying buried as they would just be vandalised if not the council have really let this area fall into a dreadful state over the years I’v watched Cochno road change it’s sad to think of the past and how lovely it was. But even further back to what it would have been before then with the estates of Cochno, Edinbarnet and auchinacraig

    • May Miles Thomas - 25 November 13 at 2:00 pm - Reply

      Thanks for your comment, Stephen. Before he passed away, Mr Marks was kind enough to show me the location of the stone. I agree, the council have a lot to answer for. It’s a shame that the stone is still buried – it would be something to see – but without proper funding and maintenance it’s probably best off where it is, although I worry about it suffering root damage from the nearby trees.

      Best wishes,

  • eleanor cotton - 19 September 13 at 10:35 am - Reply

    fascinated to read of your search for the druid stone. As children we spent many hours playing on the stone even drew peever marki
    ngsd on it. We lived at the top of cochno road
    from 1940 til 1953 when we came to Australia.I could show you exactly where it is if I still lived there. There were three large estat
    es – Auchnacraig, Edinbarnet and Cochno.Best of luck with your travels.
    Eleanor Turnbull

    • May Miles Thomas - 20 September 13 at 5:49 am - Reply

      Thanks Eleanor,

      The estates still exist – at least the names do – but I expect they’ve changed beyond all recognition since you lived here!

      Best wishes,

  • Herbert Pell - 14 September 13 at 8:32 pm - Reply

    The druid stone disappeared in the mid seventies after auchnacraig estate became edinbarnet nursing home. The stone itself was as has been stated part of the boundary wall not far to the right of where the old air raid shelter stood. The stone was broken up and taken away and the last I heard of it it was buried in a landfill site just of windy hill not far from Peel Glen Road. The landfill site used to be a dump for Glasgow Council. It is now a housing estate.

    • May Miles Thomas - 15 September 13 at 5:55 am - Reply

      Thanks for your intriguing comment, Herbert.

      I’d be interested to know more since it contradicts the late David Marks’ assertion – not to mention the documentary proof (he gave me copies) – that the stone partially occupied part of the land he acquired when he bought his house in 1966, two years after the stone was purportedly buried by the council in 1964, following a survey carried out by the archaeology department of Glasgow University. If what you say is true, then it would be a tragedy but given that the stone was already identified and catalogued by the RCAHMS, it seems unlikely that the council would have been allowed to dispose of it. The only way of knowing would be for the council and Mrs Marks to permit an excavation of the site on the boundary wall between them. If you have any more information, I’d be grateful if you could let me know.

  • Irene Griffore - 17 July 13 at 3:18 pm - Reply

    I was born in Hardgate and we used to play up at the druids stone all the time on the long summer nights. this was just after the war we would all be about 7 8 9 10 and 11 years old . The Faifley wasn’t built then and us kids hated the Faifley being being built because that was our play area that was called the knowes..we would be gone for hours it was the greatest place to have grown up in we had all these wide open spaces and we knew never go play near the dam..All our brothers and sisters before us played there too probably generations of children did. I was born the first year of the war and now live in the United States..There was a Prisoner of war camp in the Hardgate during the war it was up by the golf course..I hope this adds to your little bit of History…….

    • May Miles Thomas - 17 July 13 at 4:12 pm - Reply

      Hello Irene

      Thanks for coming to my blog and for your comment. What you say made me think of the site before Faifley was built and before the Druid Stone was covered in 1964. What a shame you lost your playground! I just wish West Dunbartonshire Council would act to save the stone. I don’t know if you read my later blog post, but last year I was invited by David Marks, who owned one half of the stone, to come and visit. He was interested in trying to uncover it but sadly passed away last September, just as I had managed to persuade the Council and Historic Scotland to conduct a site visit to see whether or not it was possible. I didn’t know about the POW camp either – so I must do some research into that.


    • Anne Scott - 20 September 16 at 9:36 pm - Reply

      This is Anne Cairns, would you be Irene McIntyre.

      • May Miles Thomas - 21 September 16 at 9:36 am - Reply

        I’ve approved this comment – does anyone know Irene? Feel free to post here and I’ll pass on any info to the relevant parties.


  • May Miles Thomas - 1 July 13 at 12:31 pm - Reply

    Hi Henry,

    Thanks for your comment. That’s an amazing story about Harry Bell and the fact he was being tracked by Langley – and also the Solar Temple which I confess I was unaware of. I’d be grateful for any info about it. It was so sad to hear that Mr. Marks had passed away. When we met he was so enthusiastic about the prospect of uncovering the Stone. It was a great shame because I had persuaded Historic Scotland to conduct a site visit, so now the chance of seeing the Stone has gone since I feel it would be unfair to Mrs. Marks to pursue the matter now.

    Best wishes,

  • Ross - 25 February 13 at 7:39 pm - Reply

    It’s my understanding that anything of historical value that’s found like these stones should be reported to the Scottish Exec../crown as a ‘Scheduled Monument’ or a ‘portable antiquity’ in the case of the smaller stones. They should be legally protected and the govt. has a responsibility to preserve them for the public good. I think because these monuments are of national importance it’s not really owned by a landowner or a council – I could be wrong but I think the age of it differentiates it from e.g. listed buildings or sculptures. …If the stone is left in soil with trees and roots growing around and through it, that’s not preservation and it’s not really the council or Glasgow Uni’s decision to make – It’s the Scottish Exec. i.e. Historic Scotland Seems rather arrogant that they just covered it up and kept most of the findings private, not to mention perhaps illegal since the law was changed 1999. The OS grid ref. you gave seems slightly off (55.9340133566, -4.39154065584)

    • May Miles Thomas - 26 February 13 at 9:27 am - Reply

      Thanks for your comment, Ross.

      Not sure if you read my recent update about the Cochno Stone. David Marks passed away last September, just as I had organised a site visit from Historic Scotland to discuss the possible excavation of the stone.

      Mr Marks gave me copies of documents pertaining to the ownership of the Stone. In a letter dated February 1986 from Historic Buildings and Monuments (then part of the Scottish Development Department) addressed to Mr Marks states that in 1966 the Sasine Minute for the sale of the property and land mentioned the stone as included as part of the sale, adding that the western half of the stone was indeed owned by the then Clydebank District Council.

      Another document signed on behalf of the Commissioners of His Majesty’s Works and Public Buildings dated 11 November 1937 and addressed to the then landowner, a Walter Kinloch, named as ‘owner of part of the monument known as the cup and ring marked rock’ – measuring 55 feet at its greatest length east to west and 35 feet north to south. The letter declares the intention to include the monument under Section 12 of the Ancient Monuments Consolidation and Amendment Act,1913.

      Mr Marks told me he bought the property and land in 1966 (2 years after the excavation took place) when he moved to the Clydebank area. He asserted that half of the stone belongs to him, and that the listing did not imply the stone became the property of the state.

      I also have other documents passed to me by Mr Marks confirming his half-ownership. It’s just very sad that he died before we had the chance to uncover it. Having seen the site, I agree with you that the stone may be at risk from surrounding vegetation.

      Best wishes

      • HENRY - 1 July 13 at 12:46 am - Reply

        Hi May
        Been following your site now for a few years on and off as I lived at Auchnacraig spent all my young years in the Cochno estates of the Hamiltons, I knew the Mowat family, I knew David Marks and family,sorry to hear David passed away, I knew his boys too, I also visited the stone and various other sites of interest with none other than old Harry Bell who I met up in East Kilbride shopping centre in my course of work, he didnt know where the stone was either, so he picked me up in Glasgow and I took him to the stone, and after that we exchanged material, as I was researching Ludovic McLellan Mann and the Solar Temple in Drumry, we also went on a few field trips after that, He wanted someone to keep his research going as he knew he had not long left to live, a curious thing being that he said to me before he died was that a number of agencies were into his research one was from Langley Virginia !!
        Some how May I dont think the stone will ever be uncovered again, an unusual thing Manns research says it was the largest marked Druid stone in Europe and markings on it were also on stones in Central park New York.

  • May Miles Thomas - 15 September 12 at 11:48 am - Reply

    Hi Yvonne – thanks for taking the time to comment.

    By a strange coincidence I was contacted recently by Mr David Marks who owns half of the Cochno Stone. The other half belongs to West Dunbartonshire Council. He invited me round to see the site and since then I’ve been in touch with the council and Historic Scotland with a view to excavate it. It’s almost 50 years since it was last seen so with any luck I may get to see it!

    • Yvonne - 7 April 14 at 5:41 pm - Reply

      Am lucky, my bedroom window looks onto Knappers and beside me is the burial ground that was found years ago. The Druid Stone is in the distance and I wonder if the whole thing is connected from Old Kilpatrick and Dumbarton Rock to Faifley and beyond ? I believe it is. Wish our powers that be had the sense to do what they do in Ireland to protect these sites.

      • May Miles Thomas - 8 April 14 at 6:59 am - Reply

        Thanks for your comment Yvonne – I’m sure there is a connection between these sites – it’s just a shame the Druid Stone is buried. It would be great to have the chance to see it.

  • Yvonne Keegan - 15 September 12 at 6:22 am - Reply

    I know where the Druid stone is in Faifley, I played there as a child. It’s covered with a lot of moss etc. and there is a hollow in the ground nearby. I could take you to the site if you wish.

  • May Miles Thomas - 21 October 11 at 6:08 pm - Reply

    Hi Margaret,

    Thanks for visiting.

    The grid ref is NS507738 Elevation is 136m.

    I hope that helps – sadly the stone is buried in an acre of tall bracken – or at least it was on my last outing.

    Good luck and happy walking!

  • Margaret Murchie - 21 October 11 at 12:23 pm - Reply

    Just heard of the Cochno stone a fortnight ago, although have always been interested in Cup & Ring marked stones. A lady in the company told us that her father had built a house and called it the Cochno stone. She could recall seeing the stone about 50 yeears ago and was aware that it had been covered over. Why do we let these people suppress our history.
    I know that Harry Bell used dowsing to locate some of his recorded sites. I have walked the hills in the area of Duncolm, Dumgoyne etc. many times and hope to visit the site of the Cochno stone soon using both dowsing and GPS.
    If you have already located the site I would be grateful if you could send me the co-ordinates for my GPS.
    Keep up the good work.
    Margaret Murchie

  • May Miles Thomas - 29 April 11 at 8:01 pm - Reply

    Hi Jim,

    Been meaning to write to you for ages. I’ll send you a private email,

    best wishes,

  • Jim Mowatt - 19 March 11 at 12:46 am - Reply

    By sheer coincidence my family comes from the south side, too; indeed my granny and granddad lived in carnoustie street in tradeston before moving in with us in Faifley in 1955-ish.
    I have very vivid memories of the druid stone off the cochno road as a boy- in fact it was encircled with a dry stone wall including a stone styal so you could more easily enter onto the druid stone and examine it.
    That wall ran from the cochno road into the red blaize football park of edinbarnet school and formed a boundary wall of the auchnacraig estate which boasted a magnificant house.this has since been demolished as has their air-raid shelter !

    we were convinced that the druid stone was used for ritual human sacrifices and that the blood of the victims ran through the canals and cups of the enormous slab of stone. interestingly, nearby were small stone slabs with similar cups and concentric rings.
    why was it filled in?
    possibly because it was feared that other children (not neds) would do what my elder brother did –carved his initials on the stone.My dad gave him a good hiding for doing that: and hidings also for, what nearly all young kids did then on quite regular occurence,- collecting birds eggs, stealing apples and riding other boys bikes which were too big for him!!

    So there was perhaps a fear that the previously near pristine dry stone walls and surrounding land which were simply trampled down – especially as no one chased the hundreds of kids who played “up the back” of the scheme when auchnacraig estate and House was vacated.
    quite soon I’m coming up from london to stay with a chum, George campbell in Norfolk court in the Gorbals
    George is a photogragher and we are going to photogragh the exact location of the druid stone before walking over to the Carbeth Huts.
    if you wish we’ll post our stuff to you.
    incidentally the nearby “Golden Hill” at the foot of the cochno road was named after the discovery of Roman precious metals and formed part of the antonine wall with forts at castlehill in bearsden and in Duntocher.

    Thank you for your writings which l only discovered tonight -fascinating and enjoyable
    jim mowatt
    and do please contact me if you wish
    I shall also be teaming up with Jack Mclean formerly of the Herald who was the best man at my wedding 20 years ago!

  • May Miles Thomas - 11 August 10 at 8:02 am - Reply

    Hi Anne,

    Thanks for your comment. I’m glad if you enjoyed this wee reminder of the Druid Stone. I still think it’s a shame we can’t get to see it – hopefully one day someone will dig it up again!


    • Anne Scott - 20 September 16 at 9:32 pm - Reply

      Hi May, just spoke to my sister who may have met you on Sunday 18/9/16 at the “Druid Stone’ I’m so pleased so many folk enjoyed seeing it again as you always wished.

      Good memories for us, from so far away in oz.

      • May Miles Thomas - 21 September 16 at 9:34 am - Reply

        Hi Anne,

        Thanks for taking the time to comment. I don’t think it was me your sister met on the 18th – I visited the Stone on the 17th! I’m just very glad that people got the chance to see it albeit briefly. I know there’s a plan to create a full-scale replica and perhaps install it close to the site of the original but as with all these things it’s subject to funding. Time will tell. It was great that your sister saw it – there’s many memories linked to the Druid Stone so the excavation was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Yesterday there was a wee ceremony before it was buried. Who knows, it may well be excavated in the future.

        Best wishes,

  • Anne Scott - 11 August 10 at 4:59 am - Reply

    Hi May, I remember well a walk to the Druid Stone in the fifties. Good to see you having an interest, and hope you enjoyed the great walk over to Duncombe. We continued to Drymen, lunch in Buchanan Arms, then the bus home to Duntocher. 1967. I now live in Queensland Australia, but my sister lives in Bearsden and sent me the site.

  • May Miles Thomas - 2 May 10 at 10:39 pm - Reply

    Thanks David,

    As much as I’d like the chance to see it, part of me hopes the Cochno/Druid Stone remains a mystery. I have a photo of it in front of me, taken during the Glasgow Uni Archaeology survey, presumably before 1964 when the stone was buried.

    I love its mystery, the fact it’s so inexplicable to us now, but made perfect sense to the person/people who created it. Which raises the question – was it the work of one person?

    No doubt one day it will be rediscovered. Not soon, I hope, otherwise it’ll be destroyed by developers looking to build new houses in the area, as they’ve done with the Cochno Rise development. I agree with you, the least that could be done is to excavate it and place it in a more secure place where we can all see it.


  • David Wright - 2 May 10 at 10:25 pm - Reply

    I remember the Cochno Stone from childhood.
    It was known locally as the Druid Stone right enough.
    The covering up of the stone in the late sixties or early seventies due to vandelism is quite plausable as I remember it as having modern additions of initials and inscriptions. It would have been better to have put a building around it as was done with the fossil grove in Victoria park.
    In the late sixties I was doing some work for a Glasgow architect called Baillie, he had plaster casts of cup and ring markings on his wall. I recognised them, having been familiar with them growing up in Faifley. He told me that he had been involved with surveying the Cochno Stone some years before. At the time, he said some satellite stones had been found some yards from the original.
    I’m afraid I can add nothing else to the mystery.
    I could possibly locate the site, though last time I was near it the area was quite overgrown and inaccessible.

  • May Miles Thomas - 25 February 09 at 1:54 pm - Reply

    Thanks Steven, I’d love a trip back to Faifley and Duncolm – I need to go there to shoot video for the website anyway, so maybe you’d like to be my guide? It would be great to see the cup and ring markings. Have you been to Castlehill or Cairn Hill? They’re part of Harry Bell’s secret geometry and I’ve yet to see them. Let me know how you’re fixed and maybe we can sort something out – you can email me –

  • Steven McDougall - 25 February 09 at 12:19 pm - Reply

    I am enjoying your site May , pitty the pictures are not larger.
    If you feel like a trip back to Faifley then i can take you to the ones i know.
    You really should make the effort to get to Duncolm.The way i go there is most breath taking as you can see both Dumgone and Duncolm at the same time.

  • May Miles Thomas - 25 February 09 at 11:36 am - Reply

    Thanks for that. I know from OS maps there’s a lot of cup and ring markings. If you have any info on them, I’d love to know. Cheers, May

  • Steven McDougall - 25 February 09 at 9:52 am - Reply

    There are other cup and ring stones in the area that are not covered by turf.

  • May Miles Thomas - 9 December 08 at 11:19 pm - Reply

    Thanks Ian,

    I’ll take you up on that. Shame the stone’s buried because it’s a fascinating artefact and I’d love to find out more.

    Contact me – – and let me know how to get in touch with you.


  • Ian Crawford - 9 December 08 at 8:56 pm - Reply

    I was brought up in Faifley and lived their from 1955 until 1975. The reason you can’t find the Druid Stone is because it was cover with about 4ft of soil in the late 60s (ish). This was done to protect it from vandalism.

    It is a large natural rock covered with numerous ring markings said to have been carved by druids.

    If you need info on its exact lcation let me know.


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