San

Dorothy Tongue: Exploring The World Of The San

At the turn of the last century, a Cradock school teacher made a breakthrough in techniques used to record San rock art.  She was Helen Tongue and she taught at Rockland Girls’ High School in Cradock, from the late 1890s to early 1900s. It was there that she met Dorothea Bleek, daughter of famous San […]

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George Stow and Joseph Orpen, collectors of rock art treasures

George Stow was 21 years old when he arrived in Port Elizabeth in 1843. A geologist by profession, he was “a Victorian gentleman of many talents,” said his friends. He was a historian, ethnographer, artist, cartographer, writer and poet. The South African veld beckoned him and rock art fascinated him.  It took him into caves […]

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Layers of history on Rietpoort Farm

Fancy a stay on a historic Karoo farm? Try Rietpoort, 30 km north of Victoria West on the road to Britstown.  This farm lies right alongside the N12 and its “modern history”, say owners Dirk and Naomi Ras, begins in the 1700’s, when nomadic European farmers moved into the hinterland and started settling down. They […]

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Maria Wilman: Rock art pioneer and museum curator

A South African woman, who was to become famous in botanical circles, was born in Beaufort West on April 29, 1867.  Her name was Maria Wilman and oddly enough this arid section of the Great Karoo was to prove fundamental in shaping her future as rock-art collector as well as a researcher of San and […]

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Rev Colin Fraser’s rural ministry

Colin Fraser, a Scot, came to serve the Dutch Reformed congregation in Beaufort West as a minister in 1825. He had some incredible experiences in the Karoo and many of these are written up in a biography, Episodes in my Life, written by his son John. When he arrived in Beaufort West, no real house, […]

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Rock art in the Karoo: The work of Dorothea Bleek

Dorothea was the fifth daughter of Dr Wilhelm Bleek, the man who did great work capturing the San language. She followed in her father’s footsteps.  She was born in Mowbray, Cape Town, in 1873, but at the age of 11 moved to Germany with her family. There she completed her schooling and trained as a teacher. The […]

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The ways of the Bushmen

A bow and arrow are the principal weapons of the Bushman, writes Lieutenant Arnold W Hudson in Trekking the Great Thirstland.  “The tip is always poisoned. I have not been able to find out what the poison consists of, but I believe it comes from a root, caterpillar or grub.  I do know, however, that […]

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To the top of Compassberg

In 1840, an Indian Army Officer left his mark at the top of Compassberg, a mountain on the outskirts of Nieu-Bethesda. Major Walter Stanhope Sherwill was on long leave from Bengal and decided to visit South Africa. He initially sailed to Cape Town, where he explored for a while and then continued on to Port […]

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Who built the ancient walls in the Seekoei River Valley?

Archaeologist Garth Sampson started working on a large-scale, long-term project in the 1970s.   Over the years, this project developed into the largest surveyed archaeological site in Africa and the best known research project in the Karoo, states the summer 2011 issue of Karoo News, the Nama Karoo Foundation newsletter.  The inspiration for this Zeekoei Valley […]

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