St. Mary's Gun Battery (aka Trunciera)


St. Mary's Gun Battery, or Trunciera, as it's known in Malta, is a semi-circular gun platform at the eastern end of the island. It was designed to protect the channel between Malta and Comino, in conjunction with the Wied Musa Battery at Marfa on Malta. It's a 10 to 15 minute walk from St. Mary's tower, and is open all year round.


During the 18th century, the power of the Knights waned as the threat from the Turks in the East receded and northern European nations extended their trade and influence across the Mediterranean. But the century becan with a continuing and financially ruinous attempt by the Knights to reinforce the defences of the island, of which this gun battery was part. Begun in 1714, it guarded the channel between Malta and Gozo, it was built at a cost of 1,018 scudi


Design and Layout

The Vendome batteries, so called after their French designer, have a semi-circular gun battery facing out to sea with the barrack area in the back. Their main aim was to engage and dissuade enemy forces from disembarking on the coastline. Philippe de Vendome’s recommendations were to strengthen the vulnerable bays by a series of fortifications, including entrenchments. Some members of the Order, who backed Vendome’s appeals, met the expenses, with the batteries named in their honour.
It was armed with six cannons, two of which were twenty-four pounders, with the other four being six pounders. The original 24-pounders were made in a French foundry. The blockhouse housed the ammunition and the garrision slept in its basement. However, when the Knights came to man these batteries and prepare them on a state of alertness, not enough troops were available to man them. One has to bear in mind that batteries and fortifications dotted the Maltese islands from Il-Hamrija Tower in Qrendi up to Il-Qolla l-Bajda Battery in Marsalforn.


Later History  
Referred to as It-Trunciera by the Cominans, it was lived in by a Gozitan family in the pre-war period. On becoming unoccupied one again, a fig tree, ficus carica, took over the main entrance, as overgrowth and the inclining elements helped increase its deterioration. A few cannons ended up in the gorge beneath, most probably dragged there by plebeians in their attempts to spirit them away to some foundry for smelting and reuse. Up to 1993, the Santa Marija Battery was in a total state of abandonment, its two twenty-four pounders lying off the gun carriage on the paving. We read that these “were found too heavy to cart away and were left abandoned on site below the second-third and sixth-seventh embrasures. Both barrels have had their cascabels sawn off and one of them has also one of its trunnions missing.”
Recent Restoration  

The Armed Forces of Malta and the Royal Navy retrieved the cannons on the 21st August 1997 during a joint operation, when a helicopter from HMS Illustrious and Maltese infantrymen helped transport them back to within the battery. Three barrack rooms are at the landward side, one having a caved ceiling. The battery has being restored by Din l-Art Helwa. The site has been cleaned, reporduction gun carriages have been reconstructed (sponsored by P. Cutajar and Co.), and the gun embrasures repaired and restored to their original condition.

Visiting the Battery  

The Battery is open to the public all year round. To reach the St. Mary Gun Battery from the Blue Lagoon, we recommend first taking the path to the St. Mary Tower, then follow the road on to the Gun Battery.

Bookings may be made for visits by schools and other groups, as well as for private functions. Please contact Carolyn Clements, Din L-Art Helwa's Gozo and Comino Sub Committee Coordinator, on either 21559679 or 99051866 or by email on Ferries to Comino can be coordinated through Mark Bajada of United Comino Ferries, on 99406529, or by email at

Please support Din L-Art Helwa's projects throughout Malta and Gozo. Visit their website for information, as well as a list of landmarks open to the public on a regular basis.


Photos of the St. Mary Gun Battery were generously donated by and were taken by Mr. Joe Zammit. The above information was provided by Steve Farrugia from website and from material provided by Din L-Art Helwa.



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