Ta’ Sannat

Located in the south of Gozo, Ta’ Sannat is a terraced village stretching from the nearby village of Munxar to the small secluded bay of Mġarr ix-Xini. Terraced fields fill the valleys to the east of the village and the previous quarry sites renowned for their good globigerina stone that employed most of the locals from ancient times until recently.

Earliest inhabitants

Already in prehistoric times, Sannat’s location was so suitable for settlement that a prehistoric community set up at Ta’ Ċenċ. Structural remains dating from the Mġarr phase (3,800-3,600 B.C.) and known as Ta’ l-Imramma still survive to this day, revealing these people’s religious beliefs and their worship practices.

The same plateau was still occupied in the earliest stages of the Bronze Age (2,400 - 1,500 B.C.) when dolmens were built on the Ta’ Ċenċ plateau possibly marking burial sites. Other forms of prehistoric activity are evident from the cart-ruts scattered all over the plateau.

In Phoenician, Punic and Roman times, agriculture thrived around nearby Mġarr ix-Xini Valley. Olives and grapes produced oil and wine for local use and export. The farmers working the terraced fields are likely to have lived in the same area where they also erected a small shrine at Għar ix-Xiħ overlooking Mġarr ix-Xini Bay, which served as a small harbour from where they could export their surplus products. Recent archaeological studies in the area are already yielding interesting results, dating back human activity there as early as the 6th century B.C.

Sannat becomes a parish

To safeguard their agricultural produce, the Sannat farmers erected towers such as the Tal-Ħofra tower near the village main square and Ta’ Ġjammajr overlooking Tal-Gruwa. A few chapels characterised this typically Gozitan rural landscape and one of them – dedicated to St Margaret of Antioch, an early 4th century A.D. martyr – became the first parish church when the village became a parish on 28th April 1688. The parish priest used to live in a fine town-house in one of the streets behind the church until he moved to the current residence next to the present church.

Until it reached its present form, the church was altered several times. The chapel of St Margaret already existed in 1615 but soon after it became a parish it was felt to be too small for the spiritual needs of its growing parish so it was enlarged in 1718 and again during the second half of the 19th century, bringing the church to its present form. These alterations were concluded with the building of the dome in 1910.

Village life down to present times

The inhabitants of Sannat have always shared the same fate as the rest of the Gozitans, suffering famines or shortage of employment along with the rest, and were not spared any plagues hitting the island from time to time like the cholera epidemic of 1837 or that of 1865. Wars left their mark too. The village was, in fact, to suffer most during World War II when it had the largest number of casualties in Gozo, particularly during a very severe attack on 10th October 1942.

After the war, many young villagers had to seek work abroad, particularly in Australia, America, and Canada. In this way, they were also able to support their families whom they often left behind them. Many of them prospered and were able to return back and re-settle here. But the economy had changed - few relied any longer on agriculture or quarrying for their living and had to enter other sectors, but they do not fare any worse than other Gozitans.