Historic sites across Edinburgh targeted by vandals

Graffiti at Old Town sites'Telfer Wall
Graffiti at Old Town sites'Telfer Wall
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Graffiti artists illegally targeting sites around Edinburgh have been slammed after it was discovered a “tag” had appeared on the city’s historic Telfer Wall.

It is thought the prominent red spray paint, which could cost thousands of pounds to remove, appeared on the 17th century wall last week.

Tour company owner Robert Howie posted an image of the graffiti on his Historic Edinburgh Tours Facebook page on Friday morning, prompting a furious reaction from followers.

Robert, 44, admitted he was concerned that the removal process could damage the ancient stone.

“The Flodden and Telfer Walls are rubble built and not great quality stone,” he said, “you can’t just go at it with a very heavy brush.

“I used to do work at Greyfriars Kirk and a small piece of graffiti there cost the council around £4000 to remove with lasers.”

Local historian Fraser Parkinson said he’d noticed a spike in recent months in the number of buildings and structures being vandalised by so-called graffiti artists and taggers.

“There’s been a huge increase in tagging and not just on historic sites,” said Mr Parkinson, 58.

“If you go to Blackfriars Street there’s lots of smaller tags using markers. Every bit of space has been covered.

“The wall going down Abbeymount towards the Palace had lots of graffiti on it recently too, but I understand it’s since been removed at great cost to the taxpayer.

“Their obsessive need to be recognised appears to outweigh their concern for the health and care needs of the local community.

“They’re taking money away from essential public services.”

But it’s not only council funds that have been hit by the graffiti scourge.

Business owner James Corstorphine said his shop, situated within an historic property on Candlemaker Row, was vandalised in 2014.

“It cost me over £1000 to have it removed by specialists due to it being a listed sandstone building in a world heritage site,” fumed James.

Transport and Environment Convener Councillor Lesley Macinnes said: “Graffiti is a criminal offence and is not only an eyesore, but can cause permanent damage to some of the city’s most iconic, historic buildings and structures. We would advise anyone with information on individuals that are committing graffiti incidents to contact Police Scotland.

“While our street cleansing operatives try to remove graffiti from council buildings as well as providing advice to private property owners, this is a costly practice. By focusing on campaigns like Our Edinburgh, which aims to engender pride in our local communities, we hope to deter anti-social behaviour like this.”

Councillor Joanna Mowat, Conservative councillor for Edinburgh City Centre, said the Telfer Wall incident was a “gross disrespect of an historical artefact” and that there were “no words for it other than vandalism”.

Nicholas Hotham at Edinburgh World Heritage said: “It’s really upsetting for both residents and visitors to see this type of vandalism committed against our fragile and precious historic environment.

“The Telfer Wall dates from the first half of the 17th century and is an important part of the city’s ancient defensive infrastructure.

“The paint itself can be very harmful to the surface of the stone, not to mention expensive and time-consuming to remove, especially for old rubble walls of this type.

“The owner of the wall should remove graffiti as soon as possible following the advice laid out by Historic Environment Scotland’s INFORM guide and CEC’s planning guidance.

“The long-term solution to vandalism of this nature is to ensure our historic environment is better appreciated and understood by people of all backgrounds and age-groups.

“Short-term, we urge the public to quickly report graffiti to the City of Edinburgh through the link on the Council’s website.”