Monday, August 7, 2017

One O'Clock Gun

We got very lucky with the weather in Scotland as far as rain goes, but many days were quite overcast.  I love me a good cool and cloudy day, but they are not ideal for photographs.  Unfortunately, our visit to Edinburgh Castle was on one such morning when the clouds were exceptionally thick.
Crowds on this trip were light overall, but the castle was quite busy the day we visited.  The Royal Tattoo takes place in August, and they had already begun to prepare for that as well (blue seating on the left) so the amount of people there was more than we encountered on the rest of the trip.
 The views of the city from the castle are fantastic...again not as good with the cloud cover, but you get the gist.
We did get some rain during the visit, so ducked inside the Scottish National War Memorial.
The Scottish National War Museum is housed at the castle.  In addition to the history of Scotland's military involvement, their soldiers who have died while serving are part of the Roll of Honour.  The names of the soldiers are in books, placed around the museum, so many books.  
Photographs were not allowed inside the memorial, but you can see inside here.  
The main entrance to the Memorial is flanked by these beautiful life-sized statues of a unicorn and a lion.  They were sculpted by Phyllis Bone in 1927.  She was one of many female artists who consulted and created for the Memorial.
The animals are heraldic symbols of Scotland (unicorn) and England (lion).  There's something charming about the unicorn being their national animal, magical even.
One O'Clock was an important time for the Scottish sailors in the 1800s.  Watches were not yet reliable so sailors used chronometers and needed to reset them midday.  The time ball was invented as a visual to those on the water.  When the ball dropped they knew it was 1:00 and could set the chronometer.  
However, with it being Scotland, those on the ships couldn't always see the ball, so it was decided a cannon at the castle would be fired at 1:00 as well.  Because the speed of sound is quite slow, sailors were given maps to show what time it would be when they heard the sound on the water.  Of course, the time ball and the One O'Clock Gun are no longer needed, but they are both still used as a matter of ceremony.  
A little before 1:00, the crowds surrounded the North Face of the castle to watch the 1:00.  Thank goodness it was early in the trip and lugging both camera lenses hadn't tired me out yet.  We were quite far away, but the long lens helped with that.  (The photos are better enlarged.)
 The "new" gun is a Howitzer light gun.
 About 5 minutes before 1:00 the process began.  The gunner came out, showed the blank cartridge, marched back to the gun and put the cartridge in.
 Then he stood aside for a bit and watched the time just before marching back to the gun, still watching the time.
 At 1:00, the gun was fired.
 The blank was then removed and he showed the crowd.
While I'm not usually one for ceremony, I did enjoy this one, no matter how touristy it was.  


  1. Good series of photos, especially the gun ceremony. That's a big casing!

    Sunny days can be nice, but I think you got some great shots and it shows things how they really are.

    Interesting how the unicorn's horn is folded back. I guess having it sticking straight up would be an invitation to have it broken off.

    1. I always find the color in overcast photos so blown out, which is what I don't care for. Oh well. Thank you.

  2. I don't know about you, but whenever I'm in that neck of the woods, I expect rain. It wouldn't seem right without it!

    Somewhere along the line, I've been to a museum with a whole bunch of howitzer casings that have been made into art, everything from etchings to scrimshaw type removal of metal. I thought it was very neat but I can't for the life of me remember where that was.

    1. I do enjoy traveling in that weather as it's quite comfortable - not too hot or cold. I just can't seem to get good shots with the white sky...everything washes out.
      Interesting museum!

  3. Those sculptures are fairly interesting. I must look up that woman. They seem to be a generation older than Eric Gill and Babara Hepworth and almost more that Germanic to Russian style than anything art deco.
    And don't let them flannel you, that gun is pointing north because that's the direction the Highlanders come from. And it's fired and repeated in all the military installations throughout Scotland as soon as they hear it. A bit like war drums and smoke signals over your way.

    1. Yes, those Highlanders were pesky! ;)
      However, facing North is a new place I think since early 2000s. It used to be at the south east end of the castle?