Mons Meg is a medieval supergun now located at Edinburgh Castle, Scotland. There are conflicting theories about its origins, but it appears from the accounts of Philip III, Duke of Burgundy that it was made to his order around 1449 and sent as a gift 8 years later to King James II of Scotland, with other artillery supplies.
Mons Meg weighs 15,366 pounds (6,970 kg), is 15 feet (4.6 m) in length, and has a calibre of 20 inches (510 mm). The final cost of the gun was £1,536. 2s. The cannon accepted balls that weighed about 400 pounds (180 kg), although it could only be fired 8-10 times a day due to the tremendous heat generated by the powder charge required. From the 1540s Meg was retired from active service and was fired only on ceremonial occasions from Edinburgh Castle, from where shot could be found up to two miles distant.
The gun was last fired in 1680 to celebrate the arrival of James Duke of Albany and York, later King James II of England and VII of Scotland, when the barrel burst. An English cannoneer had loaded the charge and many Scots believed that the damage was done on purpose out of jealousy, because the English had no cannon as big as this. The incident was also seen as a bad omen for the future King.
The cannon was left outside Foog’s Gate at Edinburgh Castle. It was next taken, with other disused ordnance, to the Tower of London in 1754, but was returned to the Castle in 1829, after the intervention of Sir Walter Scott. Following a restoration, it now sits outside St. Margaret’s Chapel.
The gun is never called “Mons Meg” in any contemporary references until the 17th century. The “Meg” may either be a reference to Margaret of Denmark, Queen of James III of Scotland, or simply an alliteration, while Mons was one of the locations where the cannon was originally tested.
Information supplied by Wikipedia.
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