Thanks go to the Glad Cafe, to my friend, Gary Lewis and to the wonderful audience who came along last Friday to watch the film. To see such a large-ish and diverse crowd on a rare sunny evening was something of a relief and judging by the positive comments it was not only well-received – I’m still getting emails about it today – plainly it blew some folk away.
It’s no idle boast. This is getting to be a regular occurrence for a select and attuned minority so now I caution people before they watch it – it will stay with you for a long time. For whatever reason, clearly it resonates, testimony to the power of cinema – or, as I said on the night, Cinema Povera, being low in budget but high in my own conviction that if you put the right pieces in the right place, magic happens.
Not long before Friday’s screening I had a few messages from Craig Brown, a journalist at the Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday who got in touch because of our mutual interest in the Cochno Stone, the most mysterious of all Harry Bell’s sites not least because it lies buried under a metre of soil off the Cochno Road on a piece of land, partly private, partly public.
Anyone who’s read my previous posts on the Cochno Stone will know about my quest to find it when, on learning it was buried in 1964, I campaigned for its excavation. For years I’ve been fascinated by what is possibly the largest and finest cup-and-ring marked stone in existence which, had it been situated in a major city given to the preservation of culture – think of Rome – would be cherished and conserved. Of all my trips (see archive Trip 25) the Stone attracted more comments than any other, so clearly there’s a lot of interest out there.
So thanks to Craig for shedding a little light on this wonder. When I first met David Marks and his wife, Elaine, owners of one half of the Stone, not only was I welcomed into their home (and Elaine’s home baking), but carried away by David’s enthusiasm and excitement at the prospect of seeing the Stone unearthed for the first time in almost 50 years. I realised too my ambition to see – finally – the site where it lies beneath a tangle of chain-link fencing, scaffold poles and dry stone wall. My worry is – could the Stone be at risk from years of root damage? Having survived this long – and we’re talking millennia not centuries – it seems unlikely, but you never know.
A few years have passed since that dull, drizzly afternoon but I’ll never forget it. I made my overtures to both the local council and to Historic Scotland but with David’s passing, I quietly withdrew my involvement out of respect to Elaine, knowing that the unearthing of an ancient artefact was as nothing compared to the death of a lifelong partner. Perhaps – hopefully – Elaine now feels she would like to fulfill her husband’s ambition to see the Cochno Stone revealed. As she said to me when we met – it’s bashert. I certainly hope so, as I also hope to get the chance to document it in a film should such a chance ever come to pass. What better tribute to her man if I – and other interested parties – could will such a thing into existence?
Look out for Craig’s story on the Cochno Stone in tomorrow’s Scotsman
Should the Stone be unearthed? Or should it be left protected under the soil? Love to hear your comments on this.