I am still on vacation in Scotland. Today I visited Edinburgh Castle and came across a piece of history which is a blast :D
Clock and loaded
The gun in the picture above is the so called One o'clock gun. It is a 105mm artillery gun that fires a blank shot at 13:00 every day, apart from Sundays and certain Christian holidays.
Now the gun doesn't have much use other than attracting tourists. But when it was first introduced in 1861 it was pretty important. At that time of course it wasn't a 105mm artillery gun but a 18 pound field gun/cannon.
Why fire a big gun?
Edinburgh is a coastal city known for its immensely thick fog. So just building a clock in the middle of the city to let people know the time isn't such a good idea. Note that this was at a time when many households already had a clock. So knowing that your clock is indicating the right time is important.
Of course, they could have gone for something like a bell tower. But since Edinburgh has a big port they wanted to let the sailors know the local time so that they can set their clocks. And what better way to blow their minds than a cannon :D
Why one o'clock?
So why did they fire it at one o'clock and not twelve? According to my audio-guide it was because the Scotts are a cheap bunch. If they had to fire it at twelve then they would have to fire twelve shots. But with some googlying it turned out that this is far from the truth. Syncing time at one o'clock was actually introduced by the English in Greenwich. It was one of the tasks of astronomers a couple of hundred years ago. Astronomers had more important observations to perform at noon so they decided that one o'clock is the perfect time to sync clocks. And that's why it is the one o'clock gun and not the twelve o'clock gun :)
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