Għar il-Kbir

Big Cave - Fallen In Cave


Useful Information

Image: Għar il-Kbir, Anne Oldham.
© Tony Oldham, 25-FEB-2002, with kind permission.
Location: Dingli. Between Baskett and Clapham Junction [ancient cart tracks]. 300 m west of the Farmhouse ta Dun Gonz and near a large quarry.
Open:  
Fee:  
Classification:  Cave House, natural caves which were enlarged for the houses.
Light: none, bring electric torch.
Dimension:  
Guided tours:  
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Accessibility:  
Bibliography: Kircher, Athanasius (1678): Athanasii Kircheri e Soc. Jesu Mundus subterraneus, in XII libros digestus, Amsterdam: Joannes Janssonius à Waesberge & Filios, 1678.
Mary Sant, Paul Wakely (2001): Caves And Cart Ruts, ... off the beaten track in Malta. An exploration of the peace in the South of the Island. 32pp, many photos.
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As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
Last update:$Date: 2015/08/30 21:57:20 $

History

 
1678first mentioned by Athanasius Kircher in Mundus Subterraneus.
1694Pajoli cited above text and added further descriptions in Italian and French.

Description

Misrah Għar il-Kbir is one of the best known sites of medieval cave houses. Għar il-Kbir is not a single cave, but several natural caves, used for cave houses. They were enlarged by the inhabitants to allow the construction of

The cave houses were first mentioned in a short description of troglodytic life in Għar il-Kbir by Athanasius Kircher (1602-1680) in his voluminous book Mundus Subterraneus. Kircher was a German Jesuit scholar and was famous for his scientific work. His publications mark the end of alchemy and the start of modern science.

Image: Għar il-Kbir, Anne Oldham.
© Tony Oldham, 25-FEB-2002, with kind permission.
Image: Għar il-Kbir, Anne Oldham, tree roots.
© Tony Oldham, 25-FEB-2002, with kind permission.

A series of caves between Baskett and Clapham Junction [ancient cart tracks] at Dingli and difficult to find until you are standing right over them. They are located 300 m west of the Farmhouse ta Dun Gonz and near a large quarry. There are a number of small caves, reputed to be Bronze Age in origin, around the edges of a large shakehole. They were inhabited as late as 1835 when the British government tried to evict the cave dwellers and force them to adopt a more normal lifestyle and pay tax like everybody else. The troglodytes fought the order but the government won in the end by bombing the caves. Marked Cave Dwellings on the 1:30 000 Freytag & Berndt map of Malta.

Misrah Għar il-Kbir is one of the best known sites for medieval cave houses. They were first described by Athanasius Kircher (1602-1680) who vividly outlined the way of life in the caves during the seventeenth century. "The troglodytes lived in separate units hewn or built out of the cave, and stored water in earthenware jars. Every family had its hearth and used dried dung as fuel. Bunches of onions and garlic greeted the visitors and humans lived side by side with the animals."

Today, the caves appear as rock shelters or abris with the entrances partially enclosed with dry stone walls. Some caves show signs of being artificially enlarged and there are shelves and stone loops, presumably for tethering animals.


Text by Tony Oldham (2002). With kind permission.


See also


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