VANDALS have daubed offensive graffiti on one of York’s oldest medieval ruins, writes Hannah Bryan.

The slogans, written in thick black spray paint and marker pen, repeatedly accused an unknown person named as “Sam” of rape and being a “woman beater”.

The culprits scrawled along the entire wall of the undercroft of St Leonard’s Hospital in Museum Gardens, which dates back to the 13th century. The damage has been condemned by both police and a leading conservationist in the city.

The hospital was the largest in England in the Middle Ages, with remains stretching as far as the Theatre Royal in St Leonard’s Place.

A North Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “This is a disgusting attack on York’s heritage and those responsible should be deeply ashamed of what they have done.

“If someone knows who carried out the graffiti attack, they are urged to do the right thing and contact police or Crimestoppers without delay.”

Philip Thake, chief executive of York Conservation Trust, condemned the vandalism as “disgraceful”. He said: “These people must be mindless - they do not know how to appreciate the heritage we have in this city.

“Do they not realise we are living in one of the most beautiful cities in the world? Because it is done straight onto the stone it will be hard to remove as it will have penetrated quite deep.”

Tourists visiting the ruins have also expressed their disbelief at the vandalism. Lorraine Holm, visiting York for the day from Doncaster, said: “It’s such a shame, there’s so much history here and they’ve completely ruined it.”

Holidaymaker John Andrews, from Cambridgeshire, said: “It’s just horrible, it’s so shocking. They have got no respect for anything. It’s going to take some cleaning to get it off.”

The Press approached York Museums Trust, but it had not commented by the time this story went to press.

Anyone who can help with the investigation should phone North Yorkshire Police on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.