Kissy Boundary Gun in Freetown, Sierra Leone

Although the modern-day city of Freetown is a sprawling metropolis of over a million people, many of the city’s neighborhoods started as independent towns. The original Freetown occupied only a few square miles at the base of Tower Hill and Mount Aureol. To mark the boundaries of their town the citizens turned to a plentiful resource: cannons from slave ships captured by the Royal Navy and brought to Freetown to be condemned by special courts there.

In the early 1800s, three cannons were placed at the west, south, and east boundaries. Secured in place by being stuck into the ground over time, the cannons were slowly buried. Over a century later in 1953 the Monuments and Relics Commission of the then-colony of Sierra Leone located the cannons and remounted them—recreating their original vertical positioning (supposedly to keep people from sitting on them) but this time on a stone plinth.

The Kissy Boundary Gun is now found in the middle of a busy roundabout that marks the intersection of downtown Freetown, the bustling port district of Cline Town (then Granville Town and home to Old Fourah Bay College and the National Railway Museum), and the neighborhood of Kissy. Of the three cannons only the Kissy Boundary Gun is now visible, having marked the eastern border of Freetown. The other two have been buried or lost once more, leaving the “Up Gun” (as it is often locally known) as the last monument to the old city boundaries.

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