One of Sunderland's best-known and much-loved landmarks has been defaced by vandals.
Penshaw Monument was attacked by vandals with black spray paint just hours before hundreds of people arrived to take part in the Trail Outlaws 10k and half marathon "Pieces of Eight" events at the weekend.
The National Trust, which cares for the monument and the land around, said the incident happened on Saturday evening or early Sunday morning.
The recognisable graffiti tags are on the new recently installed wooden steps and stone base of the historic monument.
Sarah Murray, property operations manager at Penshaw Monument, said: "We are saddened by the vandalism to this special place. As a conservation charity the National Trust works hard to keep Penshaw Monument and the surrounding land at its best so that it can be enjoyed, and treasured by the general public.”
It is not the first time vandals have struck at the landmark.
In 2014, three sides of the monument’s base and several columns were defaced with red paint, which was removed with support from local businesses and private donors.
Sarah added: "The next step is to work on the clean-up operation. Last time it cost approximately £1,500 to remove painted graffiti from the monument, which was kindly supported by local businesses and donors. It is a huge amount of our charitable resource.”
Penshaw Monument is open to visitors on foot throughout the year and tours to top of the monument are every Saturday, Sunday and on bank holidays until 24 September 10am – 5pm.