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Your Guide to Malta and Gozo - Xagħra Stone Circle

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Xagħra Stone Circle (Brochtorff Circle)

Triq il-Qaċċa, XagħraTel: +356 21 564 188, 2295 4000 www.heritagemalta.org

Opening Hours

Monday to Sunday: 9.00-17.00
Last admission: 16.30
Closed: 24, 25 & 31 December, 1 January, Good Friday

Tickets

Adults (18 - 59 years): €5.00
Youth (12 - 17 years), Senior Citizens (60 years and over), ISIC Card Holders, EURO<26 Card Holders, ICOM Card Holders, University of Malta and MCAST Students: €3.50
Children (6 -11 years): €2.50
Infants (1 -5 years): Free

 

 

The Xagħra Stone Circle opens only upon request. Bookings must be made at least 3 working days in advance.

With the Ġgantija temples only 350 metres away from the Xagħra circle, the Xagħra plateau seems to have been a hub of prehistoric activity. There is a relative abundance of standing stones and also evidence of domestic dwellings. The earliest, unmistakable reference to this site is by Jean Hoüel, a painter and engraver to King Louis XVI of France. Hoüel described these

structures at Xagħra and pictorially documented them during his early 19th century tour of the central Mediterranean Islands. More detailed paintings were produced by Charles de Brochtorff in 1820. The site was excavated in the 1820's by Colonel John Otto Bayer, then Governor of Gozo. Not fully appreciative of the site's significance, local farmers refilled the excavated site for agricultural purposes.

The Brochtorff and Hoüel paintings show the area entirely enclosed within a circle of megaliths and smaller stones some 45 metres in diameter, save for a gap on the eastern side, flanked by larger megaliths. Sadly these structures have been largely destroyed, presumably having been used as building materials for more recent structures, and only three of these standing stones survive until this day. Perhaps this is why this site's location has been so elusive to later generations of archaeologists. Interest in this site was rekindled in 1959 by Joseph Attard Tabone. The area was once again excavated and systematically and scientifically studied by a team led by Drs. Stoddard and Malone between 1987 and 1994. Removal of the earth in this location revealed a depression in the ground studded with trilithon altars.

A thriving Żebbuġ phase culture seems to have been established here in the early fourth millennium BC as evidenced by the abundance of pottery fragments in the location and a well-preserved rock-cut tomb, consisting of a shaft that leads to two burial chambers. Other fragments indicate significant Ġgantija phase activity. The use of this site during the Ġgantija phase seems to have merely been an extended use of the existing Żebbug Phase funerary facilities. The megalithic structures were probably erected during the Tarxien Phase. During this phase the roof of the East Cave collapsed and it suddenly became inaccessible for Tarxien phase burials. A later Borg in-Nadur phase of activity is poorly documented by the pottery record.

A wealth of terracotta figures has been dug up. This includes unusual figures consisting of a distinct head and an elongated, roughly trapezoid structure and more anatomically complete figures, some clothed. Some statuettes have a distinct hairstyle, with a bob or pig-tails.

Remains of around 850 individuals have been identified. Animal remains, including cows, goats, cats, birds, dogs and frogs have been discovered here but there is a dearth of marine species.

To the casual visitor, this site may seem dull and uninteresting. The archeological significance of this site cannot be over-stated however as excavations here have yielded intricate details about the funerary customs of Gozo's prehistoric populations and their day-to-day way of life.