Jobsworth risks 160 years of Scottish tradition

Health and safety fears at Edinburgh Castle

Ariel view of Edinburgh Castle. Credit: edinburghcastle/X

The traditional one o’clock gun, sounded at Edinburgh Castle since 1861 has recently come under review by health and safety executives.

For over 160 years the daily firing of the gun at 1:00 pm, except on Sundays, Good Friday, and Christmas Day, has been a cherished tradition for both locals and tourists in Edinburgh. Yet, recent health and safety evaluations threatened to silence the long-held practice.

Historic ritual at risk

The ‘One O’Clock Gun’ ceremony, a practice dating back to 1861 and designed initially to help ships at Leith Docks synchronise their maritime clocks, faced suspension due to fears that the loud blasts could harm people’s hearing.

The Ministry of Defence, led by Defence Secretary Grant Shapps, and Historic Environment Scotland (HES), which manages the spectacle, found themselves at odds with regulations after the Army conducted noise level assessments.

Defence and tradition prevail

In response to these concerns, a compromise has been reached to ensure the continuity of this beloved ritual.

It’s been decided that quieter ammunition will be introduced by late June, although specifics are still under review.

Furthermore, adjustments have been made to how the public can view the event, including new spectator zones and since December 2023, ear defenders have been made available.

Safety and heritage

This decision not only preserves a key piece of Edinburgh’s maritime and military history but also reflects a broader discussion on balancing safety with cultural preservation.

It is believed that the UK Defence secretary, Grant Shapps, threw his weight behind the decision to preserve the one o’clock gun ritual.

According to the Telegraph, a source from the Ministry of Defence commented: ‘The Defence Secretary and a lot of people at the MoD thought it might be an April Fool’s joke when they first heard about it…But he’s determined to make a sensible assessment of the risk and the gun will keep firing.

The move to quieter ammunition and revised spectator guidelines demonstrates a commitment to maintaining tradition while addressing modern safety concerns.

In the end, the decision to continue the daily firing of the Edinburgh Castle gun, complete with modifications, is a testament to the strength of tradition and the value placed on cultural heritage.

It underscores the community’s dedication to preserving history, while adapting to contemporary standards of safety and health.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.


    • John Little

      02 April 2024 • 11:34

      Next thing you know they will be banning conkers. What a load of rubbish.

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