Anglo-Boer War Route
Did you know?
The Anglo-Boer War or South African War drew in all sectors of South African society, with thousands of black and coloured people serving with the British army, and thousands assisting the Boers.
The Anglo-Boer War Route in the Northern Cape takes in battlefields that speak of a history-changing war in South Africa.
Both the British and the Boers claimed the right to rule the Transvaal (also known as the South African Republic or the Transvaal Republic then), after gold was found in 1886. Thus began the bitter Anglo-Boer War, which was fought from 1899-1902. It is also known as the South African War, and saw Canada, Australia and New Zealand supporting the British, while volunteers from Ireland, France, Russia, America, Italy and Scandinavia supported the Boers.
Kimberley was a British stronghold when war broke out on 11 October 1899, and was an obvious target for the Boers, who besieged it for 4 months.
You can start the Anglo-Boer War Route in Kimberley at the McGregor Museum, the former residence of Cecil John Rhodes, mining magnate and leading political figure on the British side during the siege. The museum houses a 'siege display' where the story of the siege and eventual relief of Kimberley is told.
From here you drive the N12 between Kimberley and Hopetown, on which several battlefield sites are well signposted. These include the battles of Belmont, Graspan, Modder River and Magersfontein – the most famous of the battle sites, approx. 40km from Kimberley.
On 11 December 1899 in the dim pre-dawn, the Boers opened fire on the Highland Brigade from their concealed trench at the base of Magersfontein Hill. It was a legendary Boer victory, but the memorials and graves at the site speak of casualties on both sides.
A must-see is the Magersfontein Museum and lookout point on the hill. The museum has an audio-visual presentation that offers visitors a ‘1st-hand’ experience of battle from a darkened Boer trench.
Kimberley was finally relieved in February 1900.
The British ultimately won the war, their ‘scorched earth’ policy proving influential. This policy included destroying Boer farms, thereby cutting off their access to food and supplies, and incarcerating Boer women, children and supporters in concentration camps.
This tactic helped to force the Boers to start peace negotiations.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
McGregor Museum, Kimberley
Tel: +27 (0)53 8392735