Two sections of Wookey Hole Caves in Somerset were attacked by graffiti artists during the night.
A rope believed to be used by the raiders to abseil into the valley was left behind and mock cave paintings were produced deep inside the caverns. Elaborate drawings of a cave man and woman, a baby and a mammoth were also painted in the cave exit tunnel.
Wookey Hole owner Daniel Medley says he is trying to find out whether Bristol’s Banksy is behind the attack on the caves, which was carried out in the dead of night.
He said: “It seems the images were well planned and have been drawn by some sophisticated and talented artist. Obviously we are not far from Bristol where the council are encouraging graffiti art and where Banksy started.
“We are making enquiries to try to find out if this is a stunt by Banksy as it has all the hallmarks of one of his stunts. For now the caves are open and we are letting the public decide whether they think the graffiti is art or vandalism.
Nothing offensive has been drawn but obviously the caves are a natural environment and some people do not like graffiti.”
The cave paintings were discovered at 8 am today when the cave duty manager discovered a padlock broken on the back door to the caves – used by the public as an exit.
Said Daniel Medley: “It seems they started just inside the back door, which is an artificial tunnel created many years ago to let people out of the caves. They then made their way deeper into the caves.
They didn’t get into the Witch’s Kitchen where the famous Witch of Wookey stalagmite stands but they did get to the Cathedral Chamber.”
It seems spray cans were used to create the graffiti and one section appears to have been made in some kind of chalk. The drawings are a pastiche of cave art. One headed 33,000 BC shows cavemen being chased by mammoths and another headed 2013 shows graffiti artists being chased by the police.