GRAVESTONES dating back over 200 years have been damaged at a church in Flintshire.

Several of the headstones, dating back to the early to mid 1800s, were damaged at the 700-year-old St Mary's Church in Cilcain, near Mold, some time on Wednesday night.

The gravestones, located in the churchyard, appear to have been knocked down and have been left broken - believed by church members to be the work of vandals.

The Leader:

Reverend Daniel Stroud said: "It's a very bizarre thing that has happened and we've all been left baffled more than anything else - we have church committee members living just a matter of 50 yards or so away and they didn't hear anything at all.

"But if it is the work of vandals as we suspect it's very sad, these are people's graves and are hundreds of years old, and one was even the headstone of a four-year-old girl.

"While what's happened is obviously very disappointing, the way the Cilcain community has responded has been brilliant. We've already had a lot of people getting in touch asking if they could try and mend and repair the gravestones and everyone has been very supportive."

The Leader:

The issue has been reported to North Wales Police, which believes the gravestone could have been hit by a large vehicle.

A spokesperson for the force said: "We were notified on June 26 that up to six gravestones had been damaged at Cilcain Church sometime between June 24 and 25.

"The car park is surrounded by gravestones and it is believed at this time that a large vehicle may have collided with them."

But Reverend Stroud says he and other church members believe that while this conclusion is not beyond the realms of possibility, it is unlikely.

He said: "We're obviously no investigators but the way the gravestones have fallen to the side, rather than backwards, makes it seem unlikely that it could have been done by a reversing car or heavy vehicle.

"There doesn't seem to be paintwork from a vehicle left on any of the stones and there are also marks on the top of the one of the headstones which look like they've been made by some kind of hacking motion, rather than a car bumper."

The Leader: