Deterring vandalism

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

If you were to visit our local castle you will see at the base of the west tower a slab of slate with  any number of initials that have been scrawled there. I think the earliest dates from the 1880’s. It is rare if, on each new visit, I don’t see one or two that have been added since I was last there.

Grafitti from nearly 150 years ago can be seen on this slate slab. Vandalism or a visitor record?

Such scrawls aren’t limited to one location in the castle grounds. Virtually anywhere that is slightly out of natural eyesight seems to have one or two.

And, I would be prepared to bet that just about any monument in our countries has had similar additions over the centuries since they were constructed.

I mention it because last week there was another case of a tourist, this time at Rome’s Colosseum, who had carved his initials generating him a potential fine of about £1,850.  In this case he didn’t date his legacy to the world but some do. Cases like this regularly are reported but no fine seems to have been sufficient to deter the practice.

Is it time for a different approach?

Is it time to rule that this isn’t vandalism at all?

It wasn’t called vandalism when mediaeval stone carvers left their marks on the cathedrals and castles they were building. If a famous person leaves their mark it is considered a bonus.  If it were to record that Julius Caesar or Machiavelli, Leonardo da Vici or Garibaldi visited, then tour guides would immediately lead every visiting tourist there.

But they didn’t and an “ordinary” person’s scrawl is of no value.

Facetiously I suggested that the rock carving of the man at the Colosseum might not be vandalism.  It still is although I hoped to have shown you that there are degrees of vandalism.

Perhaps each site should have a stone where people can carve their initials. It might deter them from chiselling their initials of the equivalent of Fred loves Flo and it might be of historic value one day.

Combine the idea of a grafitti stone with a fact that anyone caught should spend two days of their stay cleaning graffiti off stones or doing unpaid archaeological or restoration work or even sweeping up litter and they might not so it again.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.
Tags: , ,