Traces of Leith's Military Past: Cannons from Leith Fort

Repainting the cannonsAOC has conserved four cannons which had been on display in the grounds of Leith Fort housing estate since its construction in the 1960s. Though structurally sound, decades of exposure to the elements had led to deterioration of the protective paint layers and corrosion of the exposed metal, and the metal surfaces showed signs of delamination and pitting.

Multiple layers of old paint were removed before tackling the under-lying corrosion. An anti-corrosion primer was applied to prevent rusting in the future. Finally, the exterior surfaces were repainted with a glass-flake paint.

Bespoke oak stoppers known as tompions were fitted into the ends of the cannons to prevent the ingress of water, dirt or debris.

Our conservators also made moulds to aid in the creation of new custom-made plinths on which the cannons now sit, back on display in their new setting within the new colonies-style housing developing.

Leith fort cannons marks

The cleaning process revealed a series of letters, numbers and other symbols which had previously been concealed by multiple layers of paint. A rose and crown cipher (image 4, above) on two of the cannons indicates that they are of Charles II, dating to the mid/late-17th century. The other two are broadly contemporary with the construction of the fort in the 18th century (1). Further marks include the imperial weight of the cannon as it came out in the foundry (2), and the mark of the Royal Armouries (3).

Conservation of the Leith Fort cannons was carried out on behalf of City of Edinburgh Council. You can find out more about Leith Fort here