A popular name for any hill from which signals are sent.
Signal hill, in Cape Town, South Africa is the low hill to the right, adjoining Lion's head as you look at Cape Town from the harbour on Table Bay. In front of it is the City bowl. Behind it are the expensive seaside suburbs of Camps bay, Clifton and Sea point.
The hill is lowest of Cape Town’s vertical geographical features, below Table Mountain, Lion’s head and Devil’s peak. You can drive to a lookout point on top of the hill by taking a road from Klook nek, the pass between Table Mountain and Lion’s head.
The are two Kramats, small shrines, tombs of Muslim holy men, on the hill. This is tha final resting place of Sheikh Mohamed Hassen Ghaibie Shah and Tuan Kaape-ti-low.
The hill gets its name from it’s use in the 1700s as a lookout point for ships arriving into the harbour, so that farmers could bring their wares to market.
It is also tied up with the history of naval timekeeping. Accurate timekeeping became important so that ships could calculate their position.
From the earliest days of the Dutch castle (1700s), a cannon was fired as a time check. Initially this was at sunset and sunrise.
Soon after the English occupation of the Cape in 1795, the Dutch guns were removed from the Castle and replaced by the latest English 18 pounders. Two of these guns are still in use, used on alternate days. A time signal has been fired by one of these guns since 1806.
In 1798 this nearly set all of Cape Town on fire when burning wadding landed on a thatched roof and set fire to a stabe.
In 1836 they moved to using a time ball that dropped at 1pm at the waterfront.
Since the advent of the "galvanic telegraph" it became possible to trigger a gun remotely and since 1864 the noon gun has been accurately fired from the master clock of the oldest timekeeper in the country, the South African Astronomical Observatory as it is still being fired today. As Cape Town developed and grew, the noise of the gun became too loud and violent for the city centre and the guns were moved up to signal hill's Lion Battery from where they are still fired today. The first signal fired from here was on the 4th of August 1902. These same guns are still in use today and is Cape Town's oldest living tradition; the 2 guns used are the oldest guns in daily use in the world.
To this day, the Noon gun still startles the pigeons and informs the locals of the time. With good timing and a favourable office window, you can see the puff of smoke a second or two before hearing the bang. It is an electric fired cartridge that sets off the 1.3Kg charge of black powder.
21 gun salutes are occasionally used to mark important occasions.
some information sourced on the internet.