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19 January 2015, 19:08
Mons Meg, one of the world's most famous guns, has left Edinburgh Castle for the first time in 30 years to have an "MoT".
The six tonne cannon was transported from the visitor attraction today to undergo specialist restoration and conservation work.
The cannon will now be examined by Historic Scotland's conservation team, with a view to getting it back on show at the castle by late February.
Richard Welander, head of collections for Historic Scotland, said: "Mons Meg undergoes regular 'health checks' each year and is lifted off its carriage every five years for a closer inspection.
"This time it's getting a major service, which means it must leave the castle for the first time for 30 years.
"The last time Mons Meg left was in March 1985, when she went to the Royal Armouries research establishment in Kent for a short technical examination."
He went on: "We'll be using state-of-the-art equipment to examine the cannon and carriage inside and out, to assess their condition. Then we'll commence with treatment and restoration, which is a delicate and specialist task."
Over the next few weeks, the cannon will be subject to a laser scan and 3D examination.
The existing paintwork will be removed using a high pressure water system in combination with bead blasting. The iron surface will then be examined, cleaned and dried, before being re-painted.
The 1934 oak carriage that Mons Meg sits on will also undergo some conservation and repair work.
The Historic Scotland team will also use the time off site to uncover the truth behind some of Mons Meg's mysteries.
Mr Welander said: "Obviously in the past we didn't have the technology which we have today, so there are now a number of techniques that can be applied which could potentially reveal different aspects of Mons Meg's story.
"This gives us the opportunity to gather and verify more evidence on Mons Meg's past, which is an exciting prospect."
Despite many people believing that Mons Meg is fired each day at 1pm, a modern military cannon is actually used for this purpose. Visitors to the castle will therefore still be able to see and hear the famous One O'clock Gun.