A valuable cathedral door knocker has been damaged by a would-be thief.
Police said the 30-year-old version of Durham Cathedral’s world-famous Sanctuary Knocker was attacked.
The original 12th century relic was on the cathedral’s 900-year-old North Door until 1980, when it was put in a museum and replaced with a replica.
For hundreds of years the cathedral – which is now World Heritage Site – was a place of sanctuary and fugitives trying to get inside used the knocker to attract the watchman’s attention.
The knocker is in the shape of a lion’s head and its image is used extensively as a symbol of Durham and the surrounding area.
The theft bid happened between 6pm on Tuesday, when the cathedral was locked up for the night, and 7am on Wednesday, Durham City Police said.
They said someone scaled and damaged the cathedral gates and then made an attempt to prise the Sanctuary Knocker from the cathedral door, damaging it in the process.
Pc Chris Milburn: “We are treating this as an attempted theft of a valuable object which has adorned the door of the World Heritage Site for over 30 years.
“We are appealing for anyone who has information about this incident to contact us as soon as possible.”