Religious leaders say they are “saddened and upset” after vandals wrecked a holy cross using power tools.
The damage occurred at the Lantern Pike beauty spot, in Hayfield, sometime between 3pm and 4pm on Monday, March 30.
Offenders used tools – believed to be a power saw – to damage to the large cross, which had been placed there on Palm Sunday.
The cross had permission from landowners, National Trust, and was supposed to remain for one week until Easter Sunday.
Hilary Edgerton, Vicar of St Matthew’s Church, said: “It’s clear that this act of vandalism stems for religious intolerance, and everybody involved is saddened and upset by this.
“We’ve already put an old cross into its position and want to send out the clear message that this sort of behaviour will not stop us.”
She added: “The cross is only there for one week, it’s miles away so not in everyone’s face, it had permission, and it is Easter – one of the most important times for the faith.
Hilary said the tradition has been going for around 10 years now, and a group of around 30 people “braved the elements” to see the cross being erected.
Paul Richardson, who built the cross, said: “It’s very sad that somebody feels so strongly about this, they can’t even bare to see a religious cross for one week over Easter.
“And to get up there with a power saw, remove all the boulders holding the cross in place, and then pull it out and vandalise takes some effort.”
Anyone with any information about the incident is asked to call PCSO Lee Baker on 101, quoting crime number 13337/15.
Alternatively you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.