Misraħ Għar il-Kbir
Misrah Ghar il-Kbir (informally known as Clapham Junction) is a prehistoric site in Siġġiewi, in the south of the Island of Malta, near the Dingli Cliffs. It is best known for its "cart ruts", a complex network of tracks carved in the rock. The age and purpose of the tracks is uncertain. In general, most archaeologists presume that the site developed about 2000 BC after new settlers came over from Sicily, starting the Bronze Age in Malta.
Origin of the tracks
Similar tracks (known and signposted in Malta as Cart Ruts) can be found in a number of sites on both the major islands. Busewdien in St Paul's Bay, Naxxar, San Gwann and Bidnija are good examples on the main Island. Gozo's best are on the Ta’ Ċenċ plateau, Sannat.
Those at Misraћ Gћar il-Kbir are up to 60 centimetres (24 in) deep and have an average distance between them of 110 to 140 cm (43 to 55 in). Some cross while others form junctions, creating the illusion of a great railway station switching yard.
Research published in 2008 describes them as caused by wooden-wheeled carts eroding soft limestone. An analysis was made of the stresses that would have been caused by a cart which would fit the ruts. Professor Mottershead of Portsmouth University said "The underlying rock in Malta is weak and when it’s wet it loses about 80 percent of its strength. The carts would have first made tracks in the soil but when that eroded, the cartwheels ran directly on the bedrock, making it easier for other carts to follow the same tracks."
- "Ancient mystery solved by geographers". University of Portsmouth. Apr 20, 2009. Archived from the original on 29 December 2010. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
- Mottershead, Derek; Alastair Pearson & Martin Schaefer "The cart ruts of Malta: an applied geomorphology approach" (Abstract + References) Antiquity Vol 82:318, 2008 pp 1065-1079
- Media related to Misraħ Għar il-Kbir at Wikimedia Commons