Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Mons Meg cannon at Edinburgh Castle to have an 'MOT'

Mons Meg Image copyright Neil Hanna
Image caption Mons Meg was lifted by crane

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

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 by the end of February.

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."

He added: "We'll be using state-of-the-art equipment to examine the cannon and carriage inside and out, to assess their condition. Then we'll commence with treatment and restoration, which is a delicate and specialist task.

Image copyright Neil Hanna

"We're hopeful that she'll be back on display at the castle by late February."

Over the next few weeks, the cannon will be subject to a laser scan and 3D 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.

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 13:00, it is in fact a modern military cannon used for this.

Visitors to the castle will therefore still be able to see and hear the one o'clock gun at Edinburgh Castle.

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