ENQUIRIES & BOOKINGS
HOW TO GET THERE
ACCOMMODATION & ON SITE
The museum has information
boards relating the history of events leading up to the Battle as well
as details of the battle as well as a few artefacts and items of interest
including a list of the names of the Trekkers that took part in the Battle.
There is also a small auditorium where visitors can watch an excellent
45min video relating the story of the Trek and the Battle which can be
viewed at no charge.
The wagon in the museum
is an 80% scale replica of the Trekker Wagon,or 'Kakebeenwa'. The design
of the 'Kakebeenwa' was the result of years of trekking in the eastern
cape. Not too heavy that it needed a large team of oxen, simple enough
for construction in areas where resources were limited, a rear axle that
could easily be removed by removing two large pins so that a tree branch
could be fastened underneath to stop the wagon rolling away when going
down steep gradients, and with its large wheels it could negotiate rocky
ground. The big disadvantage was the height which tended to make it top
heavy. Hence the reason for the trekkers keeping to high, hard, ground
MUSEUM - BLOOD RIVER
GRANITE JAW-BONE WAGON
Designed by Coert Steynberg
at the request of the Blood River Monument Centenary Committee, the monument
was only completed in 1939, but the unveiling had to wait until 1947 because
of the Second World War. The monument is constructed from raw granite
and was initiall placed over the stone cairn in centre of the laager and
had a window inside that allowed light to illuminate the rock cairn. It
was moved to its current position in 1971 when the laager was erected."
The wagon is symbolically seen as the home, fortress and church of the
THE MONUMENT - BLOOD RIVER
COVENANT RENEWAL BEACON
Constructed in the
shape of a pyramid using local stone the beacon was erected during the
1938 Voortrekker Centenary Commemorations.
To the east of the beacon, embedded in a concrete slab are the tracks
of the "Johann van der Merwe", a wagon specially built for the
commemoration which took part in a symbolic ox wagon trek during that
year. To the north of this position, also embedded in concrete, are the
tracks of the "FAK Natalia" wagon that took part inthe 150th
Commemoration in 1988.
STONE CAIRN IN THE MIDDLE OF THE LAAGER
Erected on 16th December
1866 when some 40 odd wagons gathered here to commeomorate the Battle. Each
person present placed a stone on the cairn in memory of the event. Sadly
most of the stones have now gone. Present at the ceremony were several of
the Voortrekkers and Zulus that took part.On either side of the cairn are
two large bronze plaques with words of the convenant made between the Voortrekkers
and their God are depicted.
CAIRN AND VOW - BLOOD RIVER
Erected and unveiled
on 16th December 1971. The wagons are construct from wrought iron and
are bronzed. The laager is arranged as closely as possible to what is
believed to be that of the original laager. Those wagons left open are
for the ammunition and thosed placed behind the cannons so that they can
be quickly moved to allow the horsemen to enter or leave quickly. The
pallisades or "fighting gates" fixed between the wagons were
to keep the Zulus out and in this case are made of wattle. Here, in this
laager, if you let your imagination loose you will feel the tension of
the eary night in the mist as the Zulu Army moved in around the laager,
the restless oxen and horses enclosed in the laager, the men waiting for
the attack. Then with the dawn your senses will be unleashed as the Zulus
charged the wagons, the thunder of the gunfire the cries of the attackers
and the rattle of spear on rawhide shield. Only here can you experience
such an emmotion!
This laager, or "circle of wagons" is considered unique in the
world even in countries where similar migrations took place.
THE WAGON LAAGER - BLOOD RIVER
3 POUNDER SHIPS CANNON
Andries Pretorius brought
with him a 3 pdr brass ships cannon which he had had mounted on the front
axle and undercarrige of a wagon. It is alleged that the cannon was placed
on the eastern side of the laager in order to enable it to fire across
the river. It is also said that it was this cannon that he used to fire
on the Zulu Princes and senior regiments prompting them to join the battle.
3pdr SHIPS CANNON -
Strangely enough there
is some dispute over the number of cannons present during the battle.
We are aware that home made cannon "Ou Grietjie" mounted on
an old plough chassis and the brass cannon were present but there are
also several references to a "Groot" (big) cannon named the
"orphan" but there is no official record giving its size. "Grietjie"
was placed on the northern opening where the horseman could leave and
the "Groot" cannon on the west.
The original "Ou Grietjie" is in the Voortrekker Monument museum
"OU GRIETJIE" - BLOOD RIVER