Bidnija Grove
Heritage Site

The Bidnija site is divided into two distinct, but connected, areas. The first consists of around 20 large olive trees. The olive grove was protected in 1933 by the Antiquities Preservation Act and has been granted the highest level of protection ever since. It remains home to the oldest known specimens of the Bidni variety olive.

The grove is important for a number of reasons:

• Age – Recent Carbon dating on the trunks of the oldest specimens estimate a living age of around 500 years.

• Uniqueness – Studies have found that the olive trees in this grove, commonly known as Tal-Bidni, have a unique genetic signature that is specific to this grove. This variety is also the only known species in the Mediterranean that is immune to certain types of pests that usually target olive trees. This makes these 20 tree specimens a unique living monument of importance for the study of past olive production and for the future proliferation of this stronger olive tree.

The second area contains the unexcavated remains of a possible Roman structure, possibly connected with the production of olive oil. These were discovered by the Malta Survey Project conducted in the area between 2008 and 2010 by the Department of Archaeology of Ghent University, the University of Malta and the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage. The most important of the sites discovered was found within a field immediately to the East of the grove. This was corroborated by a remote sensing survey of the field conducted as part of the same project which has revealed clearly defined structures. In the absence of excavations on the site, the use of these structures cannot be ascertained. Some of the most distinct shapes, especially the apsed building, seem to point towards a building of substantial importance.

These remains have not been excavated yet and are an intrinsic part of the Olea Project, a joint collaboration between Heritage Malta, the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, the University of Malta and Ambjent Malta. Studies on the age of the trees and further remote sensing is being sponsored by the Melita Foundation.

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