A police investigation is underway after 16 headstones were vandalised in an Ellon churchyard.
The damage took place at the town’s St Mary on the Rock Church when the memorials were knocked over or broken during the weekend.
An Ellon woman was horrified to discover her father’s headstone overturned when she visited the cemetery on Monday.
Rebecca Cooper, who now lives in Methlick, told the Times: “We managed to pull it back up but there is a big chunk taken out of the top of it. I even noticed a baby’s headstone knocked over.
“I’ve never seen anything like this before. I just hope they catch whoever did this.”
St Mary on the Rock rector, the Rev Canon Peter Mander, was appalled by the destruction. He said: “We are very saddened about what has happened. It’s very distressing and totally unexpected.
“We have contacted everyone who has been affected and there are various avenues we can go down to repair and restore the headstones.
“I can’t understand why people would want to do this. We have no idea if it is someone local or from elsewhere.
“Hopefully someone will get in touch.”
The vandalism occurred between 9pm on Saturday and 8am the following morning. Local politicians labelled the attack “shocking” and “mindless”.
Councillor Rob Merson said: “I am extremely disappointed by this act of mindless vandalism, and feel extremely sorry for the families of those loved ones whose memorials have been damaged.
“Whoever did this has not only had no respect for the sanctity of the church graveyard, but have also damaged part of the heritage of Ellon - and they ought to be ashamed of themselves. I also hope that police enquiries might result in an arrest in due course.”
CouncillorIsobel Davidson said: “It is absolutely shocking that the effort someone has gone to. It’s just crazy. I’ve never seen anything like this. There must have been a few people to have had the strength to push the gravestones over.”
Police Scotland have appealed for help in finding the culprits.
PC Kevin Geraghty said: “This was a reckless and thoughtless act and while the value of the damage itself is not yet known, it is the considerable and needless upset this incident has caused countless families and friends that is the real cost.
“Ellon is a growing town but it is still a tight knit community and we believe someone will know who is responsible.
“That is why we are appealing to local people for their help and I would ask anyone who has any information about the incident at all to contact us as soon as possible.”
Police Scotland can be contacted on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 if they wish to remain anonymous.