The Saluting Battery

The Gun Saluting Battery in Valletta, Malta, is located one level below the Upper Barrakka Gardens. The Saluting Battery served both as a defensive and ceremonial platform from where dignitaries and visiting dignitaries to the island were greeted with gun fire. It also doubled as the official public time marker for the island with the firing of three cannon at sunrise, noon and sunset. The Saluting Battery was started in 1566 as part of the main fortification belt around the city of Valletta. The Battery sits on a strategic point guarding the Grand Harbor of Malta. It is opposite of the Fort of Saint Angelo. Together, these two armed positions could close the harbor to any enemy navies. Besides a defensive role, the Saluting Battery also played an important ceremonial role. It fired gun salutes at national and religious holidays and festivals. The battery also fired salutes to honor visiting dignitaries to the island. Further, important news such as military victories would be announced with a gun salute. After 1814 when Malta was handed over to the British Empire, the Saluting Battery became the responsibility of the British Royal Navy. The battery would be fired to celebrate the Royal birthday and births of new members of the royal family. It was this function that gave the battery its name. Another job of the battery was to mark the hour by firing at noon and sunset. It would also signal the opening and closing of the city gates. This function continued until the start of the 20th century with the battery firing at noon so the ships in the harbor could synchronize their ships’ clocks. The guns have a calibre of 24-pounds (14cm), weigh a rough 2.6 tonnes and have a length of 2.91m. They carry the Royal cipher of King George III. When used in active service these guns could be fitted with fore and rear sights on their second reinforce and cascable respectively. All eight guns are original pieces made by Carron Iron Works of Falkirk in Scotland or Samuel Walker & Co., iron founders of Grenoside near Sheffield. They were made between 1790 and 1810.
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