The People of Gibraltar
2016 - The Devil in Gibraltar - Diabolic Appellations

Charles Rochfort Scott (see LINK) was a British Army officer and the author of Excursions in the Mountains of Ronda and Granada which was published in 1838. In it he mentions the numerous places on the Rock which have been given names associated with the devil. 
I entirely forget what Saint in particular - or if any - is now charged with the protection of the "town and territory" of Gibraltar; but the intervention of one seems highly necessary, for the devil has obtained a great footing in the place, claiming as his own a Tower - a Bowling-green - a Bellows - a Gap, and - last, but not least - a tremendous tongue of fire.

“A tremendous tongue of fire” - The Rock from a section of the Old Mole (see LINK) known as the Devil’s Tongue

A good list but he left quite a few out.

A few years later in 1841 Francis Elizabeth Davis (see LINK) – a Gibraltarian - wrote a series of five articles on her 'Memories of Gibraltar' for the Metropolitan Magazine of London and New York.  This is what she had to say.
. . . his demonic majesty claims there ( Gibraltar) so many extraordinary possessions, that he may justly be supposed to be Lord of the Manor. There are the Devil's Bowling Green, the Devil's Gully, the Devil's Bellows, the Devil's Battery, the Devil's Point and the Devil's Tongue, the formidable grinning of whose teeth (i.e. the cannon ) assure us that a most fiery member that tongue would prove . . . . 
I think that makes six places in Gibraltar with the “devil” as a prefix. However, in the late 1884 a certain R. Stewart Patterson  (see LINK) Chaplain of H.M. Forces in Gibraltar wrote a short article on the topic in a supplement of the cumbersomely named Notes and Queries: A medium of Intercommunication for Literary Men, General Readers, Etc. The bit about the devil read as follows:
The Rock of Gibraltar, taking into consideration its limited extent, has more than its fair share of localities bearing diabolic appellations, and the following list may prove interesting to your correspondents and readers.
His list – quite different to that of Ms Davis - had nine names.

Finally in the late 20th century local historian Tito Vallejo tried to make sense of all these variations and produced his own illustrated list. It included some but not all of the ones mentioned by Ms Davis and Patterson and a few new ones of his own – in total eleven “demonic” names.

The question is – where on earth did this obsession with naming places after the devil come from? Checking back the oldest reference I can find to any place in Gibraltar to which the devil is associated is the appearance of “la fozze del Diablo” in Anton Van Den Wyngaerde’s 1567 map which is reputed to be one of the oldest of Gibraltar.


( 1567 - Anton Van Den Wyngaerde ) (See LINK

About half a century later the same tower is labelled on a map produced by the Spanish engineer Cristobal Rojas as La Torre de los Diablos


( 1608 - Cristobal Rojas )  (See LINK

Gibraltar’s very own early 17th century historian Alonso Hern├índez del Portillo (see LINK) curiously failed to mention either the tower or any other structure belonging to the devil but at the very least we can be sure that the name was in use at least well before the 1704 capture of Gibraltar by Anglo-Dutch forces in so far as the tower is concerned. As regards the rest of them . . . ?

Since writing the above I have come across several other “diabolic appellations”. My personal list is shown below with links that will hopefully take you to specific sites containing illustrations, maps, photos, and whatever additional information I have come across for each.

1. Devil's Tower
A medieval watch tower – of the type often referred to as an atalaya or torre almenara – that was once a feature on the east side of the isthmus very near the north face of the Rock. Its local name of the Devil’s Tower is almost certainly a direct English translation of one of its Spanish names – La Torre del Diablo – and is perhaps the originator of all the other “Devil” names in Gibraltar. It was demolished during the Second World War.
For more on the Devil’s Tower . . . (see LINK)


2. Devil's Tower Road
The Devil’s Tower Road cuts across the isthmus close to the north face of the Rock from its western end to the site of the Devil’s Tower itself on the east. I am not sure when it was built and named but it must have been before 1865 as it appears on a model of the Rock which was completed that year
For more on the Devil’s Tower Road  . . . (see LINK)


Eastern end of Devil’s Tower road hugging the dace of the Rock – at the Y junction the road to the left goes to Eastern Beach, the one to the right to Catalan Bay   ( 1924 – National Geographic )

3. Devil’s Tower Cave
This cave lies just across from the Devil’s Tower - from which, of course, it derives its name. 
It was discovered in 1911 and subsequent archaeological excavations which began in 1925 led to the discovery of the skull of a 4 year old Neanderthal boy known in the trade as Gibraltar 2
For more on the Devil’s Tower Cave  . . . (see LINK)


The Devil’s Tower Cave - marked with a cross - with the Devil’s Tower in front of it to its right

4. Devil's Tongue - Devil’s Tongue Battery 
The Devil’s Tongue – from the Spanish la Lengua del Diablo – was the name given to the Old Mole (see LINK) after Gibraltar was taken Anglo-Dutch forces in 1704. (See LINK) The battery installed on the Mole originally faced northwards and was particularly effective against enemy positions on the isthmus during several of Gibraltar’s 18th century sieges.
For more on the Devil’s Tongue  . . . (see LINK)



Gibraltar from the Devil’s Tongue  ( 1816 - Whitcombe Sutherland )

5. Devil’s Bellows 
Perhaps originally the name of a ravine that separates the upper slopes of the Rock from the southern plateaus of Windmill Hill Flats - later the name of a tunnel that leads into Windmill Hill from the north. The area is a naturally windy place facing the open south, hence the name.
For more information on the Devil’s Bellows . . . (see LINK)


6. Devil's Gap - Devil's Gap Steps - Devil's Gap Battery, Devil's Gap Cave 
The Devil’s Gap begins with a series of steps followed by a narrow pass which leads up to the upper Rock. Nearby battery and cave take their name from the Gap. The cave is right under the most southern gun of the battery.
For more on the Devil’s Gap  . . . (see LINK)


Devil's Gap Steps 

7. Devil's Bowling Green - Devil’s Bowling Alley   
Before the late 19th century, there was a steep slope formed by the accumulation of rock debris just above two beach-like areas on the south-west coast which would eventually be known as Camp Bay and Little Bay.

During the late 19th and early 20th century the entirety of the Devil’s Bowling Green was demolished when the cliff-face was mined and quarried for stones that were used during for the building of Gibraltar’s dry docks, detached mole and its new dockyard.
For more on the Devil’s Bowling Green   . . . (see LINK)


Devil's Bowling Green    ( 18th century – Unknown )

8. Devil's Tooth - Devil’s Tusk 

The Devil’s Tooth is a much photographed rocky outcrop just behind the old Naval Hospital and something of a landmark in Gibraltar. It was know in Spanish as La Muela del Demonio – although I am not sure which of the two names came first.
For more on the Devil’s Tooth   . . . (see LINK)


The Devil’s Tooth on the left – but not named   ( 1825 - Filippo Benucci ) (See LINK)

9. Devil's Gorge
This is the name given to a very rocky area just below Buena Vista Barracks and well below Windmill Hill flats. It was and is more commonly known as Glen Rocky.
For more on the Devil’s Gorge  . . . (see LINK)



Devil’s Gorge - ( 1870s - Taken by the photographer on board HMS Challenger during its scientific voyage )  (See LINK)

10. Devil’s Mouth
A name which I suspect was incorrectly described by R. Stewart Patterson as an alternative name for the Old Mole 
For more on the Devil’s Mouth  . . . (see LINK)


Patterson’s Devil’s Mouth?   ( late 19th century – G.W. Wilson )  (See LINK

11. Devil's Dyke – Devil’s Dyke Borehole
The Devil’s Dyke was built during the Second World War. It cut right across eastern section of the isthmus from the northern face of the Rock right up to the sea and was supposed to act as a tank trap preventing access to the Catalan Bay area. 
For more on the Devil’s Dyke and Borehole  . . . (see LINK)

12. Devil’s Tower Camp
An area found to the north of the old Devil’s Tower site, and a 20th century addition. It was built originally as a military camp but is now been developed for civilian purposes. 

13. Devil's Telescope 
The only record I have been able to find of this particular names that which appears on a list compiled by R. Stewart Patterson in 1884:
The Devil's Telescope is a narrow passage or tunnel piercing the crest of the rock, by which access is obtained to the Monkeys' Alameda, which is a kind of terrace on the eastern side of the rock and situated on O'Hara's Hill. 

Map of the Rock showing the Monkey’s Alameda   ( 1908 Baedeker )

14. Devil’s Frying Pan
Another unique contribution from R. Stewart Patterson:
The New Mole Parade is so called on account of the intense heat felt there in summer. The New Mole represents the handle of this satanic cooking utensi

New Mole and Parade – the Devil’s Frying Pan   ( 1830's .Piaget et Lailavoix )

15. Devil’s Point
The one and only reference I can find comes from Francis Elizabeth Davies who was born in Gibraltar and should theoretically have knows what she was talking about:
. . . his demonic majesty claims there so many extraordinary possessions, that he may justly be supposed to be Lord of the Manor. There are the Devil's Bowling Green, the Devil's Gully, the Devil's Bellows, the Devil's Battery, the Devil's Point and the Devil's Tongue, the formidable grinning of whose teeth (i.e. the cannon ) assure us that a most fiery member that tongue would prove.
Unfortunately I have not been able to figure out what this “point” was or where it might have been found.  However the fact that she includes it in her list between the Devil’s Battery - presumably the Devil’s Tongue Battery - and the Devil’s Tongue itself might mean that it referred to some particular if unidentifiable section of the Old Mole. 

16. Devil’s Gully
This name I can also only attribute to Mrs Francis Elizabeth Davies - as shown in the quote given above for the Devil’s Point.

According to John Hennen writing in the 1830s:
The principal gully in the town lies the most northerly, and not far from the Moorish Castle; it is called the "Castle Gully."  . . . in the gorge of this gully one of the principle depots of the filth of Gibraltar  existed so lately as 1814  . . . 
Gibraltar sports three other several deep gullies running across the upper Rock from east to west. Palace Gully took its first name from Arengo’s Palace (see LINK) which stood close to it. A small lane at the bottom of the gully is also known as Palace Gully. Spanish speaking locals preferred to call it el Callejon de Miste MacIntosh.

The next gully to the south of it was – and still is - Bruce’s Gully, which must have taken its name from a 19th century holdings called Bruce’s Farm. A fourth one further south is known as Lime Kiln Gully for self evident reasons. In the past, all of these periodically discharged heavy torrents of water every winter causing all sorts of damage to the crowded districts below them. None however is mentioned as having been called the Devil’s Gully – apart from Ms Davies - although it would seem that all of them would well have deserved to have been so.  


Map showing several unmade gullies if not exactly where one would have expected them to be    ( 1750 Claude Dubosc )

17. Devil's Fall Cave
This cave can be found on the cliff face between Camp Bay and Little Bay. It is considered dangerous on account of a local tendency to rock movement. The numerous cannon balls found inside the cave in the 1950s probably found their way here by rolling down the slope formed by the Devil’s Bowling Green. 



Brave caver chancing his luck in the Devil’s Fall Cave in 1963   ( With thanks to Walter Lawrence Pocock  who appears in the picture and whose photograph it is )

18. Devil's Dustbin Cave
A cave discovered at the bottom of the Devil’s Tower Talus when spoil was being removed for the construction of the airfield during the Second World War. It appeared to be full of rubbish hence its name. Although the talus area is easily identifiable I am afraid I have no idea as to where exactly the cave is situated. 



Talus area of the North Face of the Rock used to construct the airfield during WW II   ( Imperial War Museum )

19. Devil’s Gate
According to Geoffrey Theodore Garratt in his history – Gibraltar and the Mediterranean – published in 1939, the isthmus to the north of the Rock was known to the Spaniards as the Devil’s Gate.
The promontory, on which the rock stands, runs about three and a half miles due south. The first mile is an isthmus of sand about half a mile wide, but growing broader towards the north. It never rises more than a few feet above sea level. Known to the Spaniards as the Devil’s Gate, the isthmus has provided the defenders of the Rock with a magnificent field of fire for all types of weapons, from spears to machine-guns.
I am not sure entirely convinced that the Spaniards ever called the isthmus that Devil’s Gate as Garratt is the only historian or commentator on Gibraltar that I have ever read who says so. I am more inclined to think that he was confusing the term with Boca de Fuego which – as suggested above – was used by the Spaniards to describe the impressive fortifications their massive fire power that faced their own defences on the isthmus. 


Even without any obvious fortifications in view the Rock has always presented a thoroughly hostile facade when viewed from the isthmus  ( 1850 - Francis Frith ) (See LINK