By Karrie Gillett
VANDALS have caused thousands of pounds worth of damage to one of Scotland’s finest medieval churches after going on a window-smashing spree.
The sickening attacks destroyed six of the historic church’s windows – including two stained glassed panes which are more than 100 years old.
And a group of flower arrangers were inside St Michael’s Church in Linlithgow when it was bombarded with stones.
But the cowardly gang of youths ran off when two of the women inside started chasing them away towards the West Lothian town centre.
The parish minister Dr Stewart Gillan said having kids pelting a window which dates back to 1885 was a sad day for the church and the community.
He said: “It’s totally senseless. They have been bashing away at some of the most beautiful and historic windows in Scotland.
“They probably had no clue just what it was they were doing exactly but you would love to sit them down and tell them.
“I am sure they gave it no thought at all but it breaks your heart to see it.”
The church sits beside the historic Linlithgow Palace and one of the destroyed decorative windows was put in place to commemorate the money gifted by King David in the 13th century to build it.
Mr Tom Pollock – architect and parishioner of the iconic church – said it was tragic to think people had nothing better to do than throw stones at such a precious building.
The conservation expert – who was involved in a five-year preservation work on the ancient building – said it was particularly sad for him as it is his local church.
He said: “What on earth do they think they were doing to their heritage?
“I thought young people were meant to be proud of being Scottish but here they have damaged a very important part of our history.
“This doesn’t depict any pride at all when you go about vandalising a building which is right at the heart of this community.
“It’s just very, very sad that these people have nothing better to do than go out and attack the precious fabric of this church.”
The damaged windows are repairable but the church will now have to be covered in scaffolding to carry out the work.
One of the windows was erected in memory of The Challenger Expedition of Charles Wyville Thomson, a professor of Edinburgh University who is credited with laying the foundations of oceanography as he was the first to chart the seven seas.
The other window commemorates the money gifted by King David 1 to build the church and features King David, St Andrew and St Brigid.
Police are now appealing for help in finding the group of youths responsible for the costly damage.
Inspector Hugh Murphy of Lothian & Borders Police slammed the attacks as severe acts of vandalism.
He said: “This was a senseless, mindless act. It was also reckless – they could have hurt someone inside.
“This wasn’t a prank, it wasn’t high-jinks; it was criminal damage that hasn’t just damaged the fabric of the church but also the community.
“I would ask those responsible to think long and hard about what they have done.”