VANDALS have damaged historic medieval ruins in Wallingford, leaving the town council with a repair bill of £500,000.

Wallingford Castle was one of the greatest medieval castles in England and the ruins in Castle Gardens are its last surviving visible remains.

Now the town council is weighing up the cost of the repairs, alongside other important projects such as upgrading the Regal Centre, and improving facilities at Bullcroft Park.

Town councillor Adrian Lloyd said: "After the medieval ruins in Castle Gardens were vandalised last year, we had to call out a specialist historic building expert to assess the damage and what had to be done to repair them.

"The ruins are both Grade I listed and a Scheduled Ancient Monument and the town council has a legal duty to maintain them.

"The initial survey revealed that a considerable amount of additional work has to be done to stabilise them, which is why they are currently fenced off.

"A more detailed survey was carried out this year, the purpose of which is to produce a schedule of works – we are expecting to receive this imminently.

"We have been told that the repairs are likely to cost in the region of £0.5m."

Town councillor Ros Lester said it was suspected that youths had pushed over stonework, causing the damage.

She added: "The ruins were not fenced off and they may not have realised they were damaging the town's heritage."

Judy Dewey, curator of Wallingford Museum, said it was vital that the medieval ruins in Castle Gardens were repaired.

She said: "There's no question of it – the repairs must go ahead so it's a question for the town council of where the money comes from.

"The ruins are part of the College of St Nicholas which was where the priest lived who looked after the chapel in the castle.

"The college was dissolved in 1548 and the site was then sold to Christ Church in Oxford and that's why this section of the site survived.

"It's a very important part of Wallingford's history and informs our understanding of the whole Castle site – it's vital that these repairs are carried out – the ruins are listed and a Scheduled Ancient Monument."

The Earth Trust manages nearby Wallingford Castle Meadows on behalf of South Oxfordshire District Council and a dedicated team of volunteers maintains the site.

Earlier this month it emerged that architects' designs are being drawn up for a revamp of the Regal Centre, a former 1930s cinema off St Martin's Street.

Owned by the town council the building is used for community activities and a food market.

In 2014 it was estimated a revamp could cost as little as £300,000 or, if it was completely rebuilt following demolition, as much as £1.5m.

Mr Lloyd said the council had some money allocated through developer agreements for both the Regal Centre and Bullcroft Park.

Mr Lloyd added: "The Bullcroft is a Scheduled Ancient Monument because of the Saxon defences and the ruins of Holy Trinity Priory and it is subject to a Town Green registration.

"We have set up a working group to examine all of these restrictions.

"Once these have been mapped and discussed with South Oxfordshire District Council, Historic England and Oxfordshire County Council we intend to consult with the people of the town on how the facilities on the Bullcroft can be improved within the restrictions."