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.
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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.
A very interesting post, but more than that I am taken with you being “oldies” like myself and my husband and that you’re going for it big time. Does your blog earn you money so you can travel or are you just able to out of your own funds. I want to blog our travel , but probably wouldn’t be able to match yours. I’ll still give it a go though
This is very interesting. I wonder if it will ever be known how long they’ve been there for.
At first I was really wondering about what’s so special about the ruts. Then you said that at places, it leaves you like, cliffhangers. Plus the underwater ones. One to two metres???? One logic could be like, may be it was 60cms like that on the grounds, the water eroded it more with time. Just a guess though.
What a strange and interesting mystery. Surely if the tracks have also been found over cliffs and underwater the erosion would have been natural rather than man-made? We may never know!
I love the mystery, I can only imagine how historians must must be eager to figure out what the ruts really are. If they’re a natural phenomenon or a human creature.
Malta has so much history! It could be from trains hauling goods, thousands of year ago for construction of those massive temples 😃. I hope we’ll find our what these are, some day.
How interesting! I never knew that cart ruts were even a thing in Malta. I can’t think of anywhere that I’ve ever seen anything like that, but now I’m going to be on the lookout!
That’s really interesting. 12000 years ago seems like a very long time for the ruts to still be there. I find it odd that scientists can’t come up with an agreeable time table. They certainly are large.
The cart ruts of Malta sound so fascinating. I had not heard of them, but my interest was instantly riveted by your post. It is really a baffling enigma about the origin of these tracks, and also sounds quirky that it has been equated to a rail junction.
Mysteries fascinate me, especially those like the cart tracks of Misrah Ghar il-Kbir. I am especially intrigued by those you can see from outer space! How interesting that man, so small and insignificant, can leave remains that can be seen from so far away—and for so many centuries. This is the first I’ve heard of this attraction, so I am glad to learn about it here! I’d love to see this curious site in person and ponder its origins myself. Thanks for sharing!
How interesting! For whatever reason, I never imagined cart path like this in Malta, although it makes sense that there would be some. We have cart paths throughout our state that are related to the pioneers!