Brochtorff Circle

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The Brochtorff Circle at Xagħra, one of possibly two stone circles at Xagħra, but also more simply known without distinction, as the Xagħra Stone Circle, is an underground Neolithic burial complex, situated in Xagħra on the Maltese island of Gozo. 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.

An earlier chambered tomb, and other damaged tombs, on the site date to the period between 4100 and 3800 BC. There is very little activity between 3800 and 3000 BC, and none prior to 4100 BC.

Later occupation of the site in the later third millennium appears to be domestic. The site also has an extensive array of regular vine trenches from the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.


Malone, C. A. T., Stoddart, S. K. F., Trump, D., Bonanno, A. and Pace, A. (eds.). 2009. 'Mortuary ritual in prehistoric Malta. The Brochtorff Circle excavations (1987-1994). Cambridge, McDonald Institute.

Anon 2004. The Brochtorff Stone Circle. Current World Archaeology 7: 14-23.

Chalmers, R. M. L. 1993.An investigation of the geomorphology and Local Resources of the Brochtorff Circle on Gozo. BA project, Bristol.

Duhig, C. 1996. Burial practices in a Neolithic Maltese hypogeum - the human remains from the Brochtorff Circle, Gozo. In Anderson, S. and Boyle, K. (eds), Ritual treatment of human and animal remains. Proceedings of the First Meeting of the Osteoarchaeological Research Group. Oxford, Oxbow Books, pp. 63-72

Grima, R. 2004. The Archaeological Drawings of Charles Fredrick de Brochtorff. Malta, Midsea Books Ltd and Heritage Malta.

Malone, C. A. T. and Stoddart, S. K. F. 1995. Discoveries at the Brochtorff Circle. Treasures of Malta. Magazine of the Fondazzjoni Patrimonju Malti 1(2): 15-19.

1996. Maltese and Mediterranean Megalithism in the light of the Brochtorff Circle. In Grifoni Cremonesi, R., Guilaine, J. and L'Helgouach, J. (eds), The Neolithic in the Near East and Europe. Colloquium XVI. Megalithism. Preprints of the XIII Congress of the UISPP, Forlì, Italy. Forlì, Abaco, pp. 109-114

Malone, C. A. T., Stoddart, S. K. F., Bonanno, A., Gouder, T. and Trump, D. 1995. Mortuary ritual of fourth millennium BC Malta: the Zebbug Period Chambered Tomb from the Brochtorff Circle at Xaghra (Gozo). Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 61: 303-345.

Richards, M., Hedges, R., Walton, I., Stoddart, S. K. F. and Malone, C. A. T. 2001. Neolithic Diet at the Brochtorff Circle Malta. European Journal of Archaeology 4(2): 253-262.

Stoddart, S. K. F. 2004. Cycles of Life or eternity: new light on prehistoric Maltese funerary ritual from the Brochtorff Circle at Xaghra2003 Conference in Malta (CD-ROM). Sarasota, Florida, EMPTC,

Stoddart, S. K. F., Wysocki, M., Burgess, G., Barber, G., Duhig, C., Malone, C. A. T. and Mann, G. 1999. The articulation of disarticulation. Preliminary thoughts on the Brochtorff Circle at Xaghra (Gozo). In Downes, J. and Pollard, A. (eds), The loved body's corruption: archaeological contributions to the study of human mortality. Glasgow, Cruithne Press, pp. 94-105

Trump, D. H., Bonanno, A., Gouder, T., Malone, C. A. T. and Stoddart, S. K. F. 1993. New light on death in prehistoric Malta: the Brochtorff Circle. In Burenhult, G. (ed), The Illustrated History of Humankind. American Museum of Natural History. Vol 2. People of the Stone Age. Hunter-Gatherers and Early Farmers. Old World Civilisations. New York, Harper Collins, pp. 100-101

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Coordinates: 36°03′N 14°16′E / 36.05°N 14.26°E / 36.05; 14.26