The Edinburgh One O’clock Gun

During a trip to Paris in 1846, Edinburgh native John Hewitt was both surprised and impressed by a gun that fired everyday at noon, by which people checked their watches. He immediately decided the Scottish capital needed something similar.

Edinburgh Castle perches on top of Castle Rock

Edinburgh Castle perches on top of Castle Rock

Despite Hewitt’s early efforts, the Time Gun was actually preceded in Edinburgh by the Time Ball, which was erected at the top of the Nelson Monument on Carlton Hill in 1852, for the use of ships docked at nearby Leith. Just before one o’clock the ball is hoisted to the top of the mast, and then dropped precisely on the hour. Following its introduction, Hewitt renewed his campaign for a Time Gun, citing its value in foggy weather when the Time Ball is obviously useless.

The Nelson Monument on Carlton Hill, Edinburgh - to this day, the Time Ball is raised up the mast at the top each day at one o'clock

The Nelson Monument on Carlton Hill, Edinburgh – to this day, the Time Ball is raised up the mast at the top each day at one o’clock

Viewed from Edinburgh Castle, the tower of the Nelson Monument can be seen atop Carlton Hill (in the distance on the right)

Viewed from Edinburgh Castle, the tower of the Nelson Monument can be seen atop Carlton Hill (in the distance on the right)

Hewitt eventually got his wish in June 1861, when the first One O’clock Gun was fired from the ramparts of Edinburgh Castle. Since then, the gun has been fired every day (except Sundays, Good Friday and Christmas Day), apart from during the two World Wars.

The One O'clock Gun on Mills Mount Battery

The One O’clock Gun on Mills Mount Battery

Although no longer needed for its original purpose, the boom of the One O’clock Gun has become a tradition that each day echoes across the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Edinburgh’s Old and New Towns, and is loved by locals and tourists alike.

Almost time...

Almost time…

Even though you know it's coming, you can't help jumping when the Time Gun fires (at least, that's Rich's excuse for such a rubbish photo!)

Even though you know it’s coming, you can’t help jumping when the Time Gun fires (at least, that’s Rich’s excuse for such a rubbish photo!)

The current Edinburgh Time Gun is the fourth to be used in this role. But it’s not the only famous cannon at Edinburgh Castle. Mons Meg is one of a pair of giant siege guns (or bombards) given to King James II of Scotland in 1457. In many ways it was a forerunner to the Time Gun since, after it was retired from actual military service, it was used to fire salutes from the castle on important occasions.

Mons Meg - Can you spot my pal, Gravee?

Mons Meg – Can you spot my pal, Gravee?

This post was inspired by Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week, Sense of Hearing.

I’m afraid the images featured here are scans of photos taken by Rich in 2004, so lack something in the sharpness department… especially the one of the One O’clock Gun actually firing!

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About Jaspa

Star of my own award-winning adventure novels, Jaspa's Journey. Geocaching addict & F1 fan. Adventure Journeyer & blogger extraordinaire. Check out my website: www.jaspasjourney.com And don’t forget to download the books and see what the buzz is all about!
This entry was posted in History, Jaspa's Journey, Travel, UNESCO World Heritage Site, United Kingdom and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to The Edinburgh One O’clock Gun

  1. Wow, all the photos looks so majestic!

  2. vannillarock says:

    very good choice for the challenge!
    i see you got a dreich day in auld reekie

  3. Pat B says:

    That is so interesting, especially for some of us who do not get to travel as much as some. Thank you for posting the photos and telling the history. I think I would jump every time!

  4. Pingback: Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge-Hearing | WoollyMuses

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