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Għajn Żnuber turret

Cynthia Busuttil's report 'Crumbling unique tower dates back to the Knights' (The Sunday Times, April 18) contained some fundamental historical errors attributed to me which beg to be rectified.

These may have been the result of an unfortunate misunderstanding arising from the fact that details were passed on to the journalist over the phone while on the move.

These are all the details which I gave Ms Busuttil:

1. The proper name of the structure was not Manikata Tower as she implied but Għajn Żnuber 'Tower'.

2. That despite being popularly known as Għajn Żnuber Tower, the structure at Mellieħa is nothing but a rural turret (turretta).

3. That it may have been used for coast-watching duties from time to time, but in saying so I also underlined the fact that it was not part of the established coast-watching system employed by the Order of St John.

There is evidence it was used as an anti-smuggling post in the 19th century and again in World War II as a coast-watching position manned by elements of the Northern Infantry Brigade.

4. On being asked about how old it could be I replied that there is almost no known documentary information about it to allow one to safely attempt a date. Yet, basing on the stylistic evidence, one could conclude that parts of it may well date back to the time of the Knights with other parts being rebuilt later.

I also stressed that if built during the Order's time it would only have been built by the Università, not by the former.

Having hopefully clarified this I wish to take the opportunity to stress once again the importance of saving this heritage structure from certain oblivion. Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna has in the past shown interest in salvaging this property but was hampered by the hefty cost involved.

Given the circumstances, may I suggest to government that it is safely shored up for now to allow restoration and sympathetic reuse in the future.

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