The Dutch signaling system
During the Dutch reign at the Cape, muzzle loading cannon were also used as a signaling system. The purpose of the signaling system was to call up the citizens in the rural areas to help defend the Cape should it be attacked.
The signaling system worked as follows:
A series of shots were fired from Lion's Head or Signal Hill - one shot for each ship detected - to warn the Castle of the approaching ships.
A flag of the approaching fleet was also raised on Signal Hill. If the approaching fleet was an enemy fleet, the Castle would fire a shot to warn the inhabitants of Cape Town of the approaching danger.
A horse rider would then ride to Salt River to warn the responsible person there to fire a shot to warn the inhabitants of Salt River of the approaching danger.
Another rider would then ride to Tygerberg Hills to repeat the process there, and so the sequence continued along several routes as far as Citrusdal in the North and Swellendam in the East.
It took eight hours to get a signal from Cape Town to Swellendam.
According to legend the signaling system was also used to summons the farmers to come to the Cape to sell their goods, but it seems to be a myth.
The Dutch signaling system was only used twice - during the Battle of Muizenberg in 1795 and the Battle of Blaauwberg in 1806 - both times against invading British forces.
The circles on the map below indicate approximately where the Dutch deployed the cannon of their signaling system.
SOUTH AFRICAN CANNON ASSOCIATION