11 Facts About Edinburgh's One o’Clock Gun1st Jul 2017
Every day at precisely 1pm, you can hear the Edinburgh Gun go off from the clifftop where the castle sits. Here is some interesting trivia about the Edinburgh Gun that even many locals aren't aware of!
1. They've been firing it since 1861! There have therefore been a whole series of different one o'clock guns over time.
2. They don't fire it on Sundays, Christmas Day or Good Friday.
3. It’s only been fired once during hostilities – in vain, at German Zeppelins which were then dropping bombs on Edinburgh during the First World War in 1916. Otherwise, it is a hugely popular tourist attraction, as a part of the castle in its own right.
4. It instantly distinguishes us locals from our visitors – native Edinburgers check their watches whereas visitors jump out their skins.
5. It has an Edinburgh rival – the time ball on the top of the Nelson Monument on Calton Hill drops simultaneously at 1 o’clock too.
6. Actually, the time ball came first in 1852 in order to assist sailors in Leith and on the River Forth to set their chronometers. On foggy days, however, the time ball could not be seen and it was therefore decided later on to have an additional auditory signal.
7. Many of its gunners over time have been given relevant nicknames – for example, ‘Tam the Gun’ and ‘Shannon the Cannon’. In 2006, Bombadier Alison Jones became the first woman to fire the one o’clock gun.
8. It’s not the only such time signal in the world – in other previous outposts of the British Empire, and some other places, similar such time signals are still fired. Whisper it, but some are even older than Edinburgh’s – e.g. the Noon Gun from Signal Hill in Cape Town (1806). An exhibition adjacent to the gun itself introduces you to the various other world-wide time guns.
9. It hasn’t always been fired from its present location. Originally it was fired from the Half Moon Battery until moved to its present location on Mill’s Mount Battery on the north facing side of the castle.
10. There is no truth in the rumour that the time of one o’clock was specifically chosen by the Scots, as only the one cannonball each day would minimise the cost of the exercise.
11. It shouldn’t be confused with another famous gun within the walls of Edinburgh Castle. Mons Meg, further up the castle rock, is considered to be the best preserved medieval siege gun in Europe and dates back to the 1450s. It’s been a long time since Mons Meg saw any action at all.
Now you're armed with the facts, join our Secrets of the Royal Mile tour and witness the firing of the gun yourself. Our tour begins at the Mercat Cross at 10am, and concludes up at Edinburgh Castle, with a spectacular view of the city from above. Curious to learn more? Sign-up for our fortnightly newsletter for exclusive giveaways and more blogs like this one.