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Object Title

Bombard and carriage - Mons Meg

Bombard and carriage - Mons Meg

Object Number

XIX.13

Provenance

Edinburgh Castle, A.M. Scottish H.Q. Lady Lawson St. Edinburgh, Scotland. Loan 12, Old Tower Collection.

Physical Description

The barrel is made from 25 longitudinal staves of iron, each approximately 60-70 mm wide and 25 mm thick, bound with hoops which are about 70-80 mm wide. Externally, the barrel is tapered from front to back and may be divided into four sections. From the rear the first three are separated by a small stepped reduction in diameter. The first consists of nine hoops, the next eleven, and the third thirteen. The third section can be further dividedinto three parts each marked by a small, chamfered reduction in diameter. Within each section there is an overall gradual reduction in diameter. The last section is made up of three hoops of increasing diameter, which form the muzzle of the gun. The staves extend about 10 mm beyond the front face of the final hoop and their ends are neatly rounded. The breech has a constricted chamber, the outer diameter being smaller than that of the barrel; it is screwed into the barrel, being provided with slots for levers at either end for this purpose. About one foot forward of the chamber two hoops are broken as a result of damage caused in 1680.

Carriage: In 1835 the carriage on which it rested on the Argyll Battery in the Castle collapsed. The following year, after representations from the society of Antiquaries of Scotland, the Royal Carriage Department, Woolwich, made a new carriage of cast iron for the gun, the model for which is believed to be No. XIX.254 (W.O.44/303). The present wooden four-wheeled carriage was provided in 1934 largely on the representation of the Master of the Armouries at that time, C.J. Ffoulkes, the cost being defayed by Sir William Thomson, Lord Provost of Edinburgh. The design was based on a late 16th or 17th century carving near the Castle entrance gate which shows the gun. The carriage is of a kind on which the gun was transported; for firing, the gun would have been secured to a timber bed on the ground.

Featured in

Hundred Years War

Techniques

Hoop and Band, Built-up construction

Materials

Dimensions

BoreDiameter19.5 in.
BoreDiameter496 mm
MuzzleDiameter28 in.
MuzzleDiameter711 mm
BarrelLength114 in.
BarrelLength2896 mm
OverallLength158 in.
OverallLength4013 mm
OverallWeight6040 kg
OverallWeight5.94 tons
BreechLength45 in.
BreechLength1143 mm

Firearms/Artillery

Serial Number None visible

Calibre

496 mm

Inscriptions and Marks

none

Bibliographic References

H.L.Blackmore, The Armouries of the Tower of London, Ordnance Catalogue, H.M.S.O. London 1976, p.108-109.

Bombards Mons Meg and Her Sisters

Notes

It was supplied by Jehan Cambier, 'marchant d'artillerie' at a cost of £1536. 2s. The gun then had an overall length of 15ft and weighed 15366lb. (C. Gaier, 'The origin of Mons Meg', and 'fondeur', set up business in Tournay in 1439 as an arms merchant. In 1448 he moved to Mons where he was made a freeman of the town and became the foremost supplier of arms of all kinds in the Low Countries. He died in c.1472. For an account of his life and works see C. Gaier, L'Industrie et le Commerce des Armes dans les Anciennes Principautes Belges du XIIIme a la fin du XVme siecle (Paris, 1895), 108 et seq. Mons Meg was originally placed in the ducal palace at Lille but, in 1457, was sent as a gift to James II of a Scotland. In late 15th and 16th century records the gun is named simply as 'Mons', the suffix 'Meg' making an appearance only in the 17th century. Oliver Cromwell, for one on capturing Edinburgh Castle in 1650, referred to it as 'the great Iron murderer called Muckle Meg' (Scott, 'The British Army' II, 233). It was also known as 'Mounce Mag'. The gun played a part in several sieges, notably at Dumbarton Castle in 1489 and at Thrieve and Norham Castle in 1497. In later years it was used for firing salutes, the last time being on the occasion of a visit to Edinburgh by James, Duke of York, in 1680, when it was split and rendered unserviceable. In 1754 'Mons Meg' was taken from Edinburgh to the Tower. The 1821 'Guide' (p.31) describes it as 'An immense large iron cannon, brought from Edinburgh Castle, called Mount's Mag: it is of such amazing dimensions that a man may go into its mouth'. It remained in the Tower until 1829 when it was returned to Scotland largely due to the efforts of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland (W.O.44/519). An official report on the gun in 1734 quoted by Sir James Paul (Proc. Soc. Ant. Scot. II (1915-16), 191-201) gave her weight as 19452lb or about 8.5tons and the following additional statistics:
Calibre of chamber: 9 in
Weight of charge: 105 lb
Weight of shot: iron 1125 lb., stone 549 lb.
Range at 45 degrees: iron 1408 yd., stone 2867 yd.

Thumbnail image of Iron bombard known as Mons Meg. Flemish, Mons, mid-15th century (XIX.13) Supplied by Jehan Cambier to Duke Philip the Good of Burgundy. On loan to Historic Scotland and on display at Edinburgh Castle.
Thumbnail image of Iron bombard known as Mons Meg. Flemish, Mons, mid-15th century (XIX.13) Supplied by Jehan Cambier to Duke Philip the Good of Burgundy. On loan to Historic Scotland and on display at Edinburgh Castle.
Thumbnail image of Carriage wheel of iron bombard known as Mons Meg. Flemish, Mons, mid-15th century (XIX.13) On loan to Historic Scotland and on display at Edinburgh Castle.
Thumbnail image of Cannon balls for iron bombard known as Mons Meg. Flemish, Mons, mid-15th century (XIX.13) On loan to Historic Scotland and on display at Edinburgh Castle.
Thumbnail image of Iron bombard known as Mons Meg. Flemish, Mons, mid 15th century (XIX.13) Supplied by Jehan Cambier to Duke Philip the Good of Burgundy. Carriage made in 1934.
Thumbnail image of Iron bombard known as Mons Meg. Flemish, Mons, mid 15th century (XIX.13) Supplied by Jehan Cambier to Duke Philip the Good of Burgundy. Carriage made in 1934.