‘Despicable’ graffiti left for two years

Monuments in Old Calton Cemetery have been left daubed with graffiti
Monuments in Old Calton Cemetery have been left daubed with graffiti
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GRAFFITI has been left scrawled across a tomb wall in one of the city’s most historic graveyards – for more than two years.

The section of the Old Calton Cemetery on Waterloo Place appears to have been defaced in May 2009, with the words “Psychos Leaving Day” (sic), the names Joey, Lauren and Andrew and “Naomi loves Andrew” still visible.

City council chiefs have now pledged to remove the “despicable vandalism” as soon as possible after being alerted by the Evening News, with calls today for more regular inspections in the future.

It comes amid plans by Edinburgh World Heritage and the World Monuments Fund to promote the cemetery as a tourist attraction.

Old Calton Cemetery, along with New Calton Cemetery and St Cuthbert’s Cemetery, were added to World Monuments Fund Watch List in October 2009. Plans are being developed to set up a trust to prevent further decay and vandalism to the historic sites.

Conservative Councillor Cameron Rose said: “I think there is a need for upgrading the council’s removal procedures, but it is difficult for us to keep up with them all. It’s certainly a shame that this graffiti is still there after all this time.

“Graffiting is a very significant problem and affects community morale – we need to be more vigilant in removing graffiti in a number of areas.”

The burial ground was opened in 1718 and is the resting place of famed Edinburgh residents, including philosopher David Hume, publisher William Blackwood and clergyman Dr Robert Candlish.

The cemetery and its monuments are protected as category-A listed buildings.

Graham Birse, deputy chief executive of the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, said: “Graffiti that’s two years old and has not been shifted is something that needs to be addressed pretty quickly.

“Edinburgh’s built heritage and its historic centre is very much part of the offer that we extend to visitors and also to potential investors, because they reflect the quality of life and the way we have looked after ourselves.”

Mr Birse added that visiting graveyards appears to have become more popular with the arrival of genealogy TV shows, such as the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are?

Craig Ellery, publications chairman at the Scottish Genealogy Society, which published a book of inscriptions from the Old Calton Burial Ground, said: “This is really no different to somebody walking into Register House and ripping something up. The people responsible for this are simply ruining valuable headstones.”

Councillor Robert Aldridge, environment leader for the city council, said: “Graffiti in graveyards is nothing less than mindless vandalism and to deface someone’s tomb in this way is just despicable.

“We are grateful to the member of the public who spotted this vandalism in Old Calton burial ground and will ensure it is removed as soon as possible.”