Devil’s Tongue is one of the older batteries which was located on the Old Mole so that it could offer additional help to the Landport defences. This defence was intended to cover approaches to Gibraltar f from the mainland across the isthmus.
A battery was being used here by the British in 1727 and was used during the Great Siege of Gibraltar (1779-1783).
In 1848, John Fox Burgoyne, the Inspector-General of Fortifications advised on the fortifications of Gibraltar making recommendations that the guns on the Devil’s Tongue Battery be directed into Gibraltar Harbour in order to protect the shipping.
At the time the harbour was immediately south of this battery. Significant land reclamation took place in later years around the battery and it is now totally landlocked.
The Old Mole was begun in 1618 and adjoined the City Wall. It was later extended to form the Devil’s Tongue Battery or the Old Mole. This battery constructed by the British between 1779 and 1783 and proved highly effective during the Great Siege. The Mole Head Battery was added to the end of the Devil’s Tongue (Old Mole) at some time in the latter half of the 19th Century, but at this time the exact date is not known.
In 1895 the Old Mole Head was absorbed into the new Gibraltar Harbour.
An examination of the Old Mole indicates two distinct periods of building. The earliest stage is close to the City Walls with the extensive use of red brick. The area closer to the Old Mole Head is constructed from large white block of Portland like stone.
The whole length of the battery was mounted with guns, some facing North and some facing South.
In 1859 the Old Mole was reported as mounting :
8 x 8-ins guns
9 x 32-lbs
1 x 32-pdr Carronade
6 x 13-inches (Mortar?)
By 1886 there had been a general upgrading of the guns to
6 x 13-ins LS Mortars (Presumably the same ones as in the previous return)
6 x 8-ins Smooth Bore 65-cwt on Garrison Standing Carriages
6 x 64/32-pdr Rifle Muzzle Loaders on Garrison Standing Carriages
1 x 8-ins Howitzer.
We do not know exactly which guns were position on the Mole and which on the mole head. It would appear that there is at least two gun embrasures facing out to the West.
The Mole Head is presently not in use but the original embrasures for the guns can still be seen and the general integrity of the battery is maintained.
The old part of the Mole is arguably some of the best surviving fortifications from the 17th and 18th Century. This is the only know are where old embrasures and infantry fire steps can be seen. Now largely covered with a plant nursery, it would be worth considering restoring and opening this unique area to the general public.