In early September 2015, Factum Foundation and the University of Glasgow archaeology department undertook a test excavation of a section of the Cochno Stone, one of the finest examples of Neolthic rock-art in Scotland. The aim of this test was to assess its current state before planning a full excavation. The findings were that the sandstone was in good condition and under less earth than expected. The section of the stone revealed in the 4m x 1m trench showed evidence of the graffiti that led to its original burial, suggesting that it is likely that there will be considerably more. This is, of course, tragic that such an ancient monument should have been treated so negatively, and indeed it was as a result of damage such as this that a decision was taken in 1964 to bury the stone to protect it from further vandalism.
The Cochno Stone project is a collaboration between the Factum Foundation, the University of Glasgow Archaeology Department, Richard Salmon Restoration Inc. and Elemental Films. The aim of the project is to excavate, 3D scan, safely rebury the Cochno Stone, and then use the digital data to produce a replica that can be put on public display while allowing the original to remain protected. Replicating the 9x18 metre stone will be one of the biggest applications of 3D scanning in the area of cultural heritage, and the intention is that this should be installed in a location near the original. Factum Foundation and the University of Glasgow Archaeology Department will be working closely with Historic Scotland and West Dunbartonshire Council to establish safe excavation, conservation and reburial methods.