Fresh bid to tackle growing 'heritage crime'

  • Published
GraffitiImage source, Crimestoppers
Image caption,
Removing graffiti from St. Anthony's Chapel in Edinburgh will be a delicate and time-consuming process

A campaign has been launched to raise awareness of "heritage crime" in Scotland.

It follows a series of vandalism attacks on ancient monuments such as St Anthony's chapel in Edinburgh.

The Crimestoppers charity said such incidents were on the rise and that the cost to the public purse was thought to be "significant".

It is now calling on people to report offences like graffiti, metal theft and fire-raising anonymously.

Scotland is home to;

  • six UNESCO World Heritage sites
  • has more than 8,000 scheduled monuments
  • 44 protected shipwrecks
  • and 47,000 listed buildings.

In February 2019 a large graffiti tag was spray-painted onto the wall of St Anthony's which is beneath Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh.

Angela Parker, national manager for Crimestoppers in Scotland, said: "This spectacular ruin is of a late medieval date, and sits picturesquely in Holyrood Park.

"The park, and the chapel, are a scheduled monument - and this graffiti activity is a crime.

"Cleaning the spray paint off the centuries-old masonry is a delicate and time-consuming process, taking resources away from maintaining the park for locals and visitors to enjoy.

"It is not always possible to remove the graffiti, leaving permanent marks of vandalism."

Image source, Crimestoppers Scotland
Image caption,
Graffiti removal will take resources away from general park maintenance

What is heritage crime?

Crimestoppers said heritage crime was when historic buildings, monuments and shipwrecks are criminally damaged. This can include:


•Anti-social behaviour

•Theft, including metal theft

•Metal detecting on scheduled monuments

•Recovery of objects from protected shipwrecks

•Undeclared treasure trove or salvage

•Illicit trade in antiquities

In April 2019 Orkney's neolithic Ring of Brodgar was discovered to have graffiti scratched into one of its 27 standing stones.

Police Scotland described the stones as "priceless artefacts" and the vandalism as a "mindless act."

It was the most recent attack, with another reported in August 2015.

Historic Environment Scotland, the agency which cares for the ceremonial stone circle, said its conservation experts carried out a programme of remedial work to mitigate the damage done.

It said incidents such as this were rare, and it continues to work with the local community to educate people on the significance of these prehistoric sites.

The Scottish government Culture Secretary, Fiona Hyslop said: "We all have a part to play in reporting crime and I welcome the campaign being launched today.

"This collaborative approach between Crimestoppers and the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime is another important step towards the prevention of harm to Scotland's heritage in the rural environment."

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