Samaritan's clean-up of historic abbey backfires
ONE of Scotland's most historic buildings may have been permanently damaged by graffiti – by a well-meaning member of the public.
Arbroath Abbey, where the Declaration of Arbroath was signed in 1320, was defaced over the festive period by a vandal who daubed the word "Kay" in 5ft-high silver letters on the ancient Regality Tower, where the abbey's prison was once housed.
A retired native of the Angus town, home from abroad for the festive season, decided to erase the graffiti, borrowed a bucket of water and detergent from a nearby shop and washed off the offending lettering.
The Good Samaritan told the local newspaper: "When I looked closely at the writing, it didn't seem like paint to me. So I licked my finger and applied it to a bit of the lettering – which promptly vanished."
But it now appears that his do-it-yourself deed may have done more harm than good, as a "ghost image" of the lettering has reappeared on the porous red sandstone wall of the abbey.
A spokesman for Historic Scotland, the agency responsible for the ancient abbey, said: "The sprays and paints used by vandals sometimes contain substances that need to be removed very carefully to avoid damaging the stonework.
"In this case, a member of the public took it upon himself to wash the lettering away. He decided the letters were easily removable and got a bucket of water and detergent and washed it off.
"The letters have subsequently reappeared with a bit of a vengeance," the spokesman went on. "We can't say whether he actually made matters worse, but it didn't solve the problem."
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