13 August 2012 by Chris Marais

Here lies Harry Potter

Karoo graveyards are amazing places to explore – they contain the names of many famous people who passed through. And Cradock, in the Karoo Heartland, is no exception.

Misty walk through Cradock cemetery

If you think graveyards are spooky places, you should visit the Cradock cemetery on a misty morning. I go there every few days in winter, but for no solemn purpose. The Cradock cemetery has giant pines that shed loads of cones. Said cones are the best fire-starters you could wish for. We use them to keep the home fires burning, so to speak.


										Our Harry Potter – buried in Cradock

While I’m collecting pine cones in the graveyard, my layers of winter garb make me look like a homeless man on his way to Antarctica. But when it’s so chilly down here in the Karoo Heartland, no one cares too much for fashion statements.

The trees that gather around Harry Potter’s grave are particularly generous this year. Our very own Harry Potter died in 1910, and as far as we know, he may have been a British soldier who stayed on after the South African (Anglo-Boer) War. And because of his famous name, loads of visitors come to see the gravestone every month.

Some even shed a quiet tear, and others want to know why author JK Rowling never introduced us to Blanche Potter, the good missus who lies buried with him?

Nearby stands the imposing stone belonging to General Piet Kritzinger, who fought the British in this district during the South African War. This intrepid Boer guerrilla fighter also farmed around here, and later became a member of the Cape Provincial Council.

Some even shed a quiet tear, and others want to know why author JK Rowling never introduced us to Blanche Potter, the good missus who lies buried with him?


										The stone of intrepid Boer General Kritzinger

Although a fine soldier, he was also known as a ‘gentlemanly general’, and after the war his attitude to the British softened considerably. In fact, the good general was a bit of an agricultural guru to young British immigrants arriving in Cradock to set up a farming life.

Oh, and there’s a bunch of fine cones lying near that tall spiked stone. This is the grave of Dr Reginald Koettlitz, who was once Robert Scott’s medical officer in the Antarctic. Imagine spending most of your life in snowy wastes and then coming to live in the Karoo, I used to think. After the past week of blizzards and freezing temperatures, it all makes sense to me.

Nearby is a modest little block bearing the inscription: 'Harry Edwin Wood – Astronomer'. I recently Googled Harry and found that he had discovered a full dozen asteroids in his life.

As one leaves the cemetery, one passes the little grave of someone who was buried with the help of the Cradock Teetotal Society. But it’s a brief pause for thought, because the mercury is dropping, the oxtail stew is bubbling and the thought of a roaring fire and a glass of red wine are calling me homewards...

Category: Culture & History


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