Attractions
Stranger Things: The mystery of Bidni Circle in Haz-Zabbar
Is it a lost Roman amphitheatre? Is it a dolin?

Melanie Drury

Bidni Circle only

The first time I heard of Bidni Circle was from a member of the family that privately owns the place. In fact, if you ever drove past there, you wouldn’t know it exists because it is surrounded by high boundary walls and fields that would restrict access anyway. The site is along Triq il-Bidni and Trejqet Wied ta’ Mazza, some 300 metres away from the church, but it is best viewed on Google maps at coordinates 35.867908, 14.551194.

Bidni Circle outside

Google Maps

I was intrigued to be invited for an overnight stay, camping with a group of friends in the centre of the huge circular field that’s evidently a depression in the landscape. Mark led us through a gate and the large farmhouse that lies on the periphery. The house is evidently centuries old and Mark recollected his childhood, playing with his cousins among the trees surrounding the Bidni Circle while the adults in his family gathered at his grandfather’s house.

Bidni Circle Farmhouse

Bizarre Malta by Fiona Vella and Oliver Gatt

The circular field, locally known as ‘Ic-Cirku’ (The Circle), is impressive. The perfect circle is about 100 metres in diametre. The external boundary wall has another parallel wall just inside it, with well-matured trees filling the gap that’s slightly elevated from the rest of the field. The family farmhouse lies to the north.

Bidni Circle Google Maps

Google Maps

The field itself has not been tended for many years and all sorts of wild vegetation grows there. Mark remarked how different seasons bring different varieties of vegetation to flourish. Living at his father’s home some 100 metres away, he had been observing the field’s natural environment for some time, hoping that one day he could turn the place into a permaculture haven, granted his aunts and uncles would let him.

Mark himself knew little about the history of the place or how his ancestors came in possession of such an unusual circular field. However, he was aware that several known historic monuments in the area, such as a now destroyed Roman Villa and the Bidni Dolmen, might indicate that the place is of significant importance.

Roman Amphitheatre

Instagram: eric_travels_the_world - Split, Croatia

In fact, Ic-Cirku tal-Bidni is scheduled for protection by the Planning Authority as a Class B Site of Archaeological Importance and a Grade 2 Site of Scientific Importance. However, nobody seems to know anything tangible about the site. Unverified claims that a sculpted head was once unearthed there and that the depression lies on high ground with fantastic views seem to indicate that it was constructed purposefully. Many scholars speculate that it was perhaps a Roman amphitheatre. However, archaeologists dismiss this theory and assume it is simply a doline - a funnel-shaped hollow or basin that is the result of dissolution of limestone, much like a shallow sinkhole.

Bidni Circle Aerial View

Bizarre Malta by Fiona Vella and Oliver Gatt

Whether the Bidni Circle is man-made or natural may never be known. Being private property, excavations are unlikely to ever happen. One thing is sure: the night was eerie, corroborating the speculation that it may have been a Roman amphitheatre, which typically saw gladiator combats, venationes (animal slayings) and executions. But that was just a feeling after all and it could be attributed to an overactive imagination stemming from the dark of night and sense of void at the centre of a strange circular mystery.

30th August 2020


Melanie Drury
Written by
Melanie Drury
Melanie was born and raised in Malta and has spent a large chunk of her life travelling solo around the world. Back on the island with a new outlook, she realised just how much wealth her little island home possesses.

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