VANDALS rampaged through the grounds of Scarborough Castle, destroying stone work and ripping up signs at the historic landmark.
Under the cover of darkness, the modern-day marauders risked their lives to scale the castle’s walls to get into what was once a Roman signal station.
They dislodged rocks from the ruins and used them to try and crack open the crypt’s lock, in order to plunder valuable steel.
Unable to smash the lock, they then launched the rocks over the side of the cliff, which plummeted to the footpath below.
They also hurled wooden stakes over the castle walls “like javelins”.
Police have condemned the actions of the “mindless” vandals, and Scarborough Castle manager Peter Bleach said that it was a miracle that nobody was killed.
The attack happened some time between 7pm on Saturday and 9am on Sunday.
Mr Bleach said: “It’s a disgrace. People are always walking along there and if a rock hit them, then it would be tragic.
“Not only that, but if they hit one of the rocks on the cliff as it went down, then it could have caused a landslide.”
Last Monday, a sign post was removed near the cliff edge, and Mr Bleach believes that may be linked to the events of the weekend.
He also believes that the culprits must have scouted the area before striking over the weekend, and added that the heinous crime wasn’t the work of amateurs.
He said: “We are quite used to a bit of vandalism - we can come up and find empty vodka bottles and cans of Stella that kids have been drinking - but we don’t even call the police. That’s just kids being kids.
“But there’s nothing like that this time - whoever knew this knew what they were doing.
“They’ve damaged every corner of the castle.”
Sign posts, interpretation boards and stainless steel fittings from the stairs were all ripped out by the marauders over the course of several hours.
The castles flag was also lowered and damaged, and an appeal has been issued to anybody who seen the flag lowered, or still flying in the early hours of Sunday morning, to give police a better idea of when the vandals struck.
Mr Bleach added that the culprits would have had to have used specialist tools to unscrew the fittings and boards, and that it was a “tidy bit of vandalism.”
Five staff at the castle spent yesterday morning cleaning up the aftermath of the events only hours before, and Mr Bleach said that his team “worked like trojans” to get the castle open for business later in the day.
He also praised police, who arrived at the castle within minutes following reports of damage.
The force have vowed to step up patrols at the castle in the next few weeks, and a request has been made by Mr Bleach to Scarborough Police for the castle grounds be used for exercising police dogs.
In a statement, PC Alasdair McNeill from Scarborough Police said: “We need to find whoever is responsible for this completely mindless act of criminal damage.
“It’s very sad that people feel the need to destroy something which has stood for many hundreds of years, is a landmark for the town and contributes to the culture and economy of the area.
“The sign posts can be repaired and replaced, but the roman ruins cannot. I urge anyone who has any information to contact the police as soon as possible.”
Anyone with any information is asked to call North Yorkshire Police on 101, select option 2 and ask for Alasdair McNeill.
Alternatively, you can give information anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.