Tam's Tall Tales

- Mons Meg

A Spring Clean for Edinburgh's Big Gun

Mons Meg, the world's most famous medieval gun, has left Edinburgh Castle for the first time in 30 years to have specialist spruce up.

The weapon (technically a "bombard") was a gift to King James II from the Duke of Burgundy in around 1455 and was used in war against the English.

The six tonne cannon was lifted from the castle by crane ahead of specialist restoration and conservation work. It has been moved off-site and will be examined by Historic Scotland conservation experts.

It is hoped the cannon will be back on display before the tourist season picks up after Easter. Richard Welander, head of collections for Historic Scotland said: "Mons Meg undergoes regular 'health checks' each year and is lifted off its carriage every five years for a closer inspection.
"This time it's getting a major service, which means it must leave the castle for the first time for 30 years.
"The last time Mons Meg left was in March 1985, when she went to the Royal Armouries research establishment in Kent for a short technical examination."

The existing paintwork will be removed by high pressure water and bead blasting. The iron surface that is revealed will then be examined, cleaned and dried, before being repainted using a protective paint system.

The oak carriage that Mons Meg sits on will also undergo some conservation and repair works. The carriage was built in 1934 and cost the Lord Provost of Edinburgh 178 at the time.

The Historic Scotland team will also use the time off site to uncover the truth behind some of Mons Meg's mysteries. In a test firing in 1558 it sent a 400 pound projectile two miles.

Mr Welander added: "Obviously in the past we didn't have the technology which we have today, so there are now a number of techniques that can be applied which could potentially reveal different aspects of Mons Meg's story.
"This gives us the opportunity to gather and verify more evidence on Mons Meg's past, which is an exciting prospect."

Despite many people believing that Mons Meg is fired each day at 1pm, it is in fact a modern military field gun that is used for this (see One O'Clock Gun, Edinburgh Castle in Rampant Scotland "Places to Visit" section.

Please give me whatever feedback comes to mind via tamfromrampant@gmail.com.

Tam O'Ranter
February 2015

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