Borġ in-Nadur

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Borġ in-Nadur
Borg in Nadur.jpg
Megalithic Temple of Borġ in-Nadur
Location Birżebbuġa, Malta
Coordinates 35°49′52″N 14°31′44″E / 35.8312°N 14.529°E / 35.8312; 14.529
Type Temple
Fortified village
Part of Megalithic Temples of Malta
Material Limestone
Founded c.2500 BC
Periods Tarxien phase
Bronze Age
Site notes
Excavation dates 18th century–1959
Archaeologists Annetto Caruana
Antonio Annetto Caruana
Margaret Murray
Condition Ruins
Ownership Government of Malta
Management Heritage Malta
Public access No

Borġ in-Nadur is a site in open fields, overlooking St George’s Bay, near Birżebbuġa, Malta. It is occupied by a Tarxien phase megalithic temple as well as the remains of a Bronze Age village which includes the earliest fortifications of Malta.[1] The site is located close to various Bronze Age cart ruts and silos, as well as Saint George Redoubt which was built thousands of years later in 1715-1716.

Megalithic Temple[edit]

A temple was constructed in the area in around 2500 BC, during the Tarxien phase of Maltese prehistory and the last phase of the Temple period. The architecture shows a typical four-apse plan, although the wall made up of megaliths is quite low. The temple's entrance has two upright megaliths which can still be seen. A large covered niche stands close to the entrance but its capstone is now broken into three pieces.[2]

The temple lacks the artistic decorations associated with similar temples from the era such as Tarxien Temples or Ħaġar Qim. A small cemetery is located about 9m away from the main temple.

Bronze Age village[edit]

In the Bronze Age period, a flourishing village colonized the site of the former temple as well as the surrounding area, which had since been abandoned. The temple was converted into a group of dwellings, and various huts were built in the area around it. The huts' foundations still exist, but they cannot be seen today since they were reburied after being excavated and studied. Scattered sherds were found in a large area all around the temple. Some of these were Mycenaean in origin, indicating that there was direct or indirect contact between the Maltese and Aegean civilization.[1]

The inhabitants fortified their settlement with a 4.5m D-shaped bastion in order to bar access to the village. The wall was built facing inland, showing that the people living in the village were more afraid of attacks from the land than from the sea.[3] After the area was excavated, the wall was not reburied and it still standing. This is believed to be the oldest surviving fortification in Malta.[2]

The cart ruts and silos located in the area around Borġ in-Nadur are also believed to date from the Bronze Age era.

Modern history[edit]

Silos at St. George's Bay, about 150m away from Borġ in-Nadur
Cross on top of Borġ in-Nadur Hill

The temple was discovered in the 16th century. The French cleric John Quintin noticed the various scattered megaliths and ruined structures and identified them as the ruins of a sanctuary of Hercules. The first excavations took place two centuries later, when Annetto Caruana dug various trenches inside the temple complex and discovered the Bronze Age fortification.[2]

Other excavations took place in the 19th and 20th centuries. By now, it was thought that the temple was Punic in origin, and that it was dedicated to Melqart. In 1881, the first foundations of the Bronze Age huts in the fields surrounding the temple were discovered. After being excavated, the huts' foundations were reburied for preservation, but the ancient bastion was left exposed. The team leading the excavation restored the wall with new stones where the original ones were missing. The mound of earth that was removed in the excavation of this wall remains there to this day and it is now known as Borġ in-Nadur Hill.

On 31 May 1920, 32 prehistoric silos in the vicinity of Borġ in-Nadur were destroyed to make way for a new road. Another 41 silos were destroyed when the road was widened later on.[4] Despite this, other silos still exist and can be seen in the area around St George's Bay. Between 1922 and 1927, Margaret Murray investigated the main temple area. Further excavations of the Bronze Age village took place in 1959, and the foundations were once again reburied after being studied.[2]

The site is now closed to the public and its preservation is the responsibility of Heritage Malta. Today, Borġ in-Nadur is not very well preserved and it appears as a large site, only slightly visible on the ground.[1]

From 2006 onwards, a local resident Angelik Caruana claimed to have seen visions of the Virgin Mary at Borġ in-Nadur Hill, close to the temples. A cross was erected on the hill to mark these apparitions.[5]


  1. ^ a b c Trump, David H. (2004). Malta: Prehistory and Temples. Misdea Book Ltd. pp. 140, 141. 
  2. ^ a b c d Bonanno, Anthony. "Borg In-Nadur". Malta Holiday Planner. Retrieved 7 September 2014. 
  3. ^ "Borg in-Nadur". Tourist Link. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  4. ^ Grima, Noel (15 May 2011). "Borġ In-Nadur silos destroyed". The Malta Independent Online. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  5. ^ Attard, Elaine (27 January 2011). "Angelik’s letter to be passed on to the Pope". The Malta Independent Online. Retrieved 20 February 2011.