excavated for the first time by John Otto Bayer in
the 1820’s and was depicted in a series of water
colours back then by Charles Brochtorff, a German
who had settled in Malta and whose family line still
exists to this day. By time this site was reburied
and nothing else was heard of it for some 140 years.
In 1964 Joe Attard Tabone a Gozitan scholar was
examining the Brochtorff paintings which are housed
in the National Library of Malta when he realized
where the reburied site could be located.
Excavations were started 22 years later in 1987.
The Brochtorff circle is known to have served as a
funerary site whereby thousands of human bones were
discovered in between 1987 – 1994. The excavations
were carried out by joint team of archaeologists
from the Universities of Malta, Bristol and that of
The usage of this site goes back mainly to the
second half of the megalithic period (circa 3000 to
2400 BC.) However, a grave was also discovered that
goes back to the Neolithic period. The burial site
seems to have been cordoned off by a megalithic
circle (hence its name) some 120 m in circumference
and in ancient times this was accessed through a
megalithic tirithom structure. Then the underground
burial site was initiated by hewing out some caves.
Amongst the 200,000 fragments of human remains there
were found some 800 skulls. Also some interesting
sculptural remains were found. One of these was a
statuette of two female figures standing side by
side some 5 cms high and 5 cms wide. The two figures
each seem to be holding an object in their hands.
The first one is holding what seems to be a child
the other a cup.
Apart from these other small figurines were found
stashed close to each other. Then there were
numerous bone remains of animals as well as personal
objects like pendants and axes. The site is at
present reburied to retain its contents for future
Albert E. The
Brocktorff Album, Treasures of Malta, Vol II no 3.
Malone, C. A. T., Stoddart, S. K. F., Trump, D.,
Bonanno, A. and Pace Mortuary Ritual in
prehistoric Malta – The Brochtorff Circle , A.
Bonanno, Gouder, Malone, Stoddart, Monuments in
an Island Society, World Archaeology. Vol 22,
Malone Caroline & Stoddart Michael, ‘Representations
of Death’ – Discoveries at the Stone Circle of
Xagħra, Gozo, in Prehistoric Art.