The mysterious prehistoric cart ruts of Misrah Ghar il-Kbir (informally known as Clapham Junction, named after a busy train station in London) can be found in Siġġiewi, near the Dingli Cliffs in the south of Malta.
What Are The Cart Ruts?
The cart ruts are a complex network of tracks and grooves that have been gouged into Malta’s limestone landscape. No one seems to know the age nor purpose of the tracks. Although, many archaeologists believe that the site originated after settlers came over from Sicily, during the Bronze Age around 2000 BC.
However, there are a few historians that insist that the ruts are not Bronze Age but from the Neolithic era. That sounds rather a very long time ago- it is- roughly 12,000 years.
Others have placed them from the seventh century BC at the time of the Phoenician colonisation of Malta.
Recent Research Suggests….
Recent research suggests the ruts were created by the use of wooden-wheeled carts that caused the soft limestone to erode. But doesn’t reveal when.
The group of scientists from Portsmouth, UK believe the carters would use the same ruts route only for a limited period. When the tracks became too deep for a cart to move upon, new roads were made. This theory would explain the many parallel or crossing lines.
Whatever the truth – the one consistency is that it is almost impossible to date the ruts scientifically.
What Do The Cart Ruts Look Like?
The tracks at Misraћ Gћar il-Kbir are up to 60 centimetres deep and have an average distance between them of 110 to 140 centimetres. Many of the lines cross each other, while others form junctions, creating the illusion of a railway station switching yard, hence the nickname Clapham Junction.
Why Are The Cart Ruts In Malta?
That’s a good question and still a bit of a mystery. The tracks do not appear to link to any building or temples. They are usually found on higher and rockier surfaces. Some trails go over cliff edges, and some have been spotted underwater. The depth of some of the ruts is as much as one to two metres – that must have been a huge wheel to cause that!
Mysteries Surrounding The Cart Ruts
Over the years, many have come up with ideas for what the cart ruts were used for. From paths, irrigation channels, chariot races, transporting bulky goods, to UFOs.
Who Made The Cart Ruts?
No one seems to agree on this one. Was it the megalithic temple builders? The Phoenicians? The Romans? Extraterrestrials?
It appears that one of the oldest records found regarding the cart ruts came from the 17th century when questions were also raised about where did they come from.
Taking Photos Of The Cart Ruts
The best way to take photos of the tracks is from above, so if you have a drone, here’s an excellent opportunity to use it.
Don’t go out of your way to visit, unless of course, you are a massive fan of cart ruts, but if you’re in the area, it’s definitely worth a quick stop.
Best Time To Visit Misrah Ghar il-Kbir, Malta
Early morning or evenings are best. There is very little shade in the area. If you do visit during the day, bring a hat, sunscreen and water. Unless of course, you’re visiting Malta in winter.
How To Visit The Cart Ruts in Malta?
It’s most accessible by car. The location is marked on Google Maps as Clapham Junction.
However, with no car and a lot of patience, it is possible to get there by bus although you will probably have to change buses once or twice along the way. There are these ruts all over the island, but Misrah Ghar il-Kbir (Clapham Junction) is probably the best place to see them.
Misrah Ghar il-Kbir is close to Dingli Cliffs and not too far from Mdina, the Silent City.
Have you ever seen cart ruts like these on your travels? Who do you think made them, and when? We would love to hear your input.