MEPA to sanction illegalities in Brochtorff circle

Planning and environmental arms at odds over application to sanction illegalities in ODZ buffer zone to Xaghra Stone Circle

The Xaghra Stone Circle
The Xaghra Stone Circle

MEPA’s Planning Directorate is recommending the regularisation of paving works 70 metres away from the Brochtorff Circle, arguing that the development merely consists tile-laying on disturbed land inside the boundaries of an approved building, which did not require any excavations.

The site is designated as a zone of archaeological importance and a buffer zone to the Ggantija complex in Xaghra.

The site also lies in a buffer zone for a system of underground caves, 300 metres west of Ggantija.

The Brochtorff Circle at Xagħra, one of possibly two stone circles at Xagħra, is an underground Neolithic burial complex. It was first discovered by John Otto Bayer in the 1820s and rediscovered in 1964 after Gozitan researcher Joe Attard Tabone examined a painting by Charles Brochtorff in the National Library in Valletta.

It was excavated by a joint team from the University of Malta, the Maltese Museums Department and the University of Cambridge. The excavation uncovered the burial ground of the same community which practised its rituals in the nearby Ggantija temple, dating principally to the period from 3000 to 2400 BC. The most notable discoveries include more than 200,000 fragments of human bone, animal bone, megalithic structures and prehistoric art relating to the builders of the prehistoric Maltese temples.

The Environment Protection Directorate has called on MEPA not to approve the permit and to order the removal of the illegalities in question.

MEPA’s heritage advisory committee initially objected to the application but following a site inspection, it concluded that since no excavations took place, it was no longer objecting to the application.

The board will take a decision on the sanctioning of the illegal works on Thursday.

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