Russian gun returns to historic ramparts

Matthew Packer and Tim Martin lift the Russian cannon back into place on Berwick's ramparts following its restoration. Picture by Alan Hughes.
Matthew Packer and Tim Martin lift the Russian cannon back into place on Berwick's ramparts following its restoration. Picture by Alan Hughes.

English Heritage’s only Russian cannon, made in 1826, returned to Berwick last week after extensive restorative works.

Gifted to the town in 1858 as a trophy of the Crimean War, it has since been preserved as a key historical artefact and takes pride of place on the ramparts.

The recent conservation works will protect the cannon from harsh coastal weather conditions, keeping it preserved for future generations and continuing its long tradition of care.

Created in Alexandrovski, Russia, the cannon bears the imperial arms of Russia, and has a shot weight of 18lbs. The top of the barrel is testament to its heritage, displaying a Russian double-headed eagle.

After being captured at Sebastopol in 1856, the gun was set on a carriage, specially constructed for it to a Russian pattern by the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich.

This was commissioned following talks between Captain Gordon of Berwick and Secretary Major-General Peel of the War Office in 1858, on the occasion of the government’s proposal to no longer use Berwick as a military station.

In a letter from the War Office, it is stated that General Peel specified this was to be treated with great care, saying the cannon is to be a ‘trophy of the late war, for the correct mounting and careful preservation of which General Peel feels confident that he may rely on the public spirit of the inhabitants of the place’.

Ever since, the cannon has been kept at Berwick, surviving the great scrappage scheme of the Second World War, as it was too important to be destroyed.