Edinburgh Castle

How did Mons Meg get its name / What does Mons Meg mean –
Mons Meg started out in a small village called Mons, located in Burgundy – now what we call Belgium. It is thought the “Meg” part of the title is attributed to Margaret of Denmark, queen to King James III of Scotland.

How to pronounce Mons Meg –

How far can Mons Meg fire –
Mons Meg is capable of firing 380lb stone balls an incredible distance of 2 miles.

Mons Meg in battle –
The sheer weight of the canon made it impractical to drag around in battles but it was employed in a number of sieges. Famously, it fired for James II at Roxburgh Castle in 1460. In 1489 it was taken to Duchal, Dumbarton, and Crookston Castles where the enemy was scared witless by its size and surrendered. It was finally retired to Edinburgh Castle from the 1540s, and only fired on ceremonial occasions. One such occasion was 1558, marking the marriage of Mary, Queen of Scots to the French Dauphin.

When was Mons Meg last fired –
Mons Meg was last fired in 1680 during a visit by King James VII (then Duke of Albany & York). Legend has it an English cannoneer had loaded the charge incorrectly leading to an iron ring on the barrel bursting, rendering it unusable. The incident was seen as a bad omen for the future King and many Scots at the time believed the damage to be deliberate, because the English had no cannon as big as Mons Meg.

Mons Meg is utilised to mark the start of Edinburgh’s annual Hogmanay celebrations, but the event is largely theatrical and Mons Meg is not actually discharged.

Retirement and Present Day –
After the barrel burst it was left just outside Foog’s gate until it was taken to the Tower of London in 1754 as part of the disarming act against the Jacobites. It was returned to Edinburgh castle by order of King George IV after a series of campaigns by Sir Walter Scot to return Scottish antiquities.
Following restoration and a complete recreation of the rotted carriage it now sits proudly outside St Margerets Chapel.