Wied Musa Battery

Wied Musa Battery was one of those fortifications built in the early 18th century. The building of coastal batteries was a new concept of fortifications which was initiated by the French in France and their colonial possessions. Although the concept was the same only a handful of coastal batteries similar to those of the French were built. The majority of those built in Malta had a semi-circular platform, two blockhouses and a redan.

Wied Musa Battery was not an exception. It was a large battery compared to others built in the Mellieħa area. Commander Mongontier donated one third of the sum needed for the construction of Wied Musa Battery, meaning 250 scudi out of the 938.1.8 scudi. The work on it began in 1714 and was finished two years later. Part of the expenses went on works on each five muri a due facciate, which costed 102.2.2 scudi, scudi, scudi, scudi and 31.0.13 scudi respectively, the terraze, pittaforma e ballate costed scudi.

A front view of Wied Musa Battery with the semi-circular battery and the 19th century structure additions.

A close-up of the battery with three of the four embrasures for the cannons.

A typical gun platform of a coastal battery showing four 6-pdr cannons in their embrasures. This particular example is found at Comino Battery


The battery consisted of a large semi-circular gun platform, surrounded by a parapet, with four embrasures for cannons. Behind the semi-circular wall there are still partially visible, two blockhouses one on either side, with a redan at the back joining both blockhouses. The redan formed the landward defence in case of an attack from the land, fitted, with a number of musketry loopholes for the soldiers stationed in it to defend the rear approaches to the battery. It is surrounded by a ditch.

On 4 October 1769, the Congregation of War made a report about the actual situation in the coastal fortifications, in terms of artillery pieces. The report showed how the coastal fortifications of Mellieħa had been depleted in regarding artillery pieces. The following is the situation found in Wied Musa Battery:

Wied Musa Battery

There were four 8-pdr cannons, but now is disarmed, and the utensils remain for the cannons that was armed with.

A year later, an artillery inventory was made in the Mellieħa coastal batteries, and we know that there were the following items as Swatar Battery or Wied Musa Battery as was more commonly known:

Swatar Battery

Iron cannons 8-pdr = 4
Naval carriages = 6
Iron cannon balls 8-pdr = 280
Canister shots 8-pdr = 60
Blackpowder conserved at St. Agatha Tower = 1.94

An artillery inventory was prepared by the Knight St. Felix on 3 October 1785, which showed the situation in the same coastal fortifications and how many pieces of artillery and other utensiles and necessary items they had. The following is the list of artillery pieces in Wied Musa Battery:

Wied Musa Battery/Swatar Battery

Iron cannons 8-pdr = 4
Naval carriages = 6
Iron cannon balls 8-pdr = 280
Canister shots 8-pdr = 60

On November 1792, the Congregation of War ordered that guards to be sent to Wied Musa Battery:

In the 19th century the battery was extended and another floor was built to be used by the governor as a summer residence.

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    About the village of Mellieha

    Mellieha is a rural village and tourist resort in the Northwestern part of Malta and derives its name from the Semitic root 'm-l-h' which in Arabic means salt. The name was probably derived from the ancient Punic and Roman salt-terns; historians indicated as lying adjacent to the large sandy bay at the foot of the village.
    Mellieha has been inhabited since early Neolithic times (3000 B.C). Several megalithic remains and tombs of this era and other primitive tools and fragments of pottery were found in various localities around this area, primarily at "il-Latnija" - a natural cavity used by several stone-age peoples - and at l-Gholja tax-Xemxija.
    During the Roman and Byzantine occupations (213B.C- 870A.D.), Mellieha's valleys were inhabited by troglodytes, who irrigated the land, adopted natural caves as their dwelling places and buried their beloved ones in Punic style burial chambers. Following the Arab conquest and during the medieval period (870-1530A.D.), the area was deserted, primarily due to the continuous raids of the Muslim corsairs.
    Notwithstanding the hardship experienced by the Maltese during the Reign of the Order of St. John (1530-1798A.D.), Mellieha's medieval chapel, dedicated to the Holy Virgin Mary, was one of the most venerated places on the island. Several distinguished persons, such as grandmaster's, kings and bishops visited the shrine and pilgrimages to the sanctuary from all over the island were held frequently.
    In the late 17th century, the Knights built several fortifications along the coast, so as to protect the inhabitants. This venture brought about the gradual repopulating of the area, mainly by those who wanted to exploit the fertile valleys and the new enterprise of tunny net fishing. Under the British, in 1844, Mellieha was established again as a parish and since then it grew up into a modern town, of circa 6,500 people.
    Today, Mellieha is one of Malta's most picturesque tourist destinations. The town centre boasts of its splendid hotels, fine restaurants and traditional cute shops. It has a unique primary school, a majestic baroque church (built in late 19th century) and various cultural organizations, including band clubs, sports clubs, an orchestra, various religious societies, a parish community centre and an environmental pressure group. Since 1993, local affairs are being run by the Mellieha Local Council, an institution made up of seven councilors, elected every three years by the people.
    Mellieha's main festive season occurs in the first two weeks of September and reaches its climax on the 8th September. During these days various cultural manifestations are held, such as musical concerts, fireworks, folk singing, art exhibitions and the traditional religious procession. The town's people, ''Il-Mellehin'', are renowned for their laborious nature, their ironic sense of humour, and their friendliness and hospitality. Those who visit us, no matter where they hail from, do not merely enjoy themselves but feel at home.

    As long as Mellieha preserves its great archaeological and historic heritage, its unique natural environment, and its traditions and costumes, its people, "Il-Mellehin", can look forward to a bright future.