The last two days of the trip we were the guests of Jules of the Karoo, a magnificent Game hunting farm situated almost in the spot centre of South Africa near De Aar.
And talking of spot centre, I negotiated with the farm owner to take our UK guests on a Springbok Hunt and Colin was over the moon on bagging his first Springbuck – a prize sized ram weighing almost 50 kilograms.
As Lukas had to return to his own farm on Friday morning, we had the final prize giving that night, although the rest of us returned to the fields the next morning and only said our good buys the following (Saturday) morning.
The voting for the best finds of the trip was hampered by the fact that not all the finds could be displayed as some were already packed away and given to Lukas for his museum. So we had to vote on memory of the finds that were made during the trip – it was somehow difficult not seeing the finds in front of you during the voting process.
But the winners were eventually decided upon and here they are ...
The fourth prize went to Gerry from the UK for his Worcester (shire?) badge
The 3rd prize went to Tinus for his 1862 Young Head Victorian Shilling
The second prize went to Jono for his ZAR Artillery Button
The first prize went to Simon Morris from Queenstown for his beautiful Sovereign holder but unfortunately, Simon did not accompany us from Norvalspont to Springfontein, so his first prize was given in absentia. Here is the man of the moment!
Thank you to the sponsors – Simon himself sponsors a lot of prizes every year. Also thank you to Minelab and Detectors for Africa for sponsoring the fourth, third and second prizes and to Lukas who sponsored the first prize – a Fisher 1212x Metal Detector.
Our Irish friend, Des (from Minelab) giving a short thank you speech.
This was the 28th annual hunt organized by Lukas and every year it just gets better and better. I am not sure how he is going to top this next year but we will just have to wait and see!
Thank you Lukas for all the hard work and organizing – here is the big man himself showing his joy ...
From all of us to all of us and to those that will join us next year – cheers and keep that coil to the soil!
Deelfontein is a railway siding in the Great Karoo, Northern Cape, region of South Africa on the route of the Cape Town to Pretoria railway line. It primarily developed to service the railway due to its good water supply for steam locomotives.
During the Anglo-Boer war (1899-1902) in South Africa, Lord Roberts, the commander of the British forces decided that a hospital should be established near the front line of the northward advance of the British army (February 1900).
A British military field hospital, the Imperial Yeomanry Hospital, was constructed and the location was chosen for its communications and dry climate, and its proximity to the town of De Aar, then the centre of hostilities. The hospital was unusual in pioneering the use of x-ray diagnosis.
The hospital, with a capacity for some 800 patients, largely comprised tents and prefabricated huts. Little remains of the complex except a cemetery with around 130 graves and the remains of the Yeomanry Hotel, built after the war to accommodate soldiers' relatives visiting the site.
Here is a link to more info on the history of the Hospital during the Anglo Boer War
The following two pictures show the Ruins of The Yeomanry Hotel at Deelfontein Siding.
The following two pictures show the letters IYH (for Imperial Yeomanry Hotel) spelled with white stones against the hill above the hospital – and old and new picture – the letters (stones) are still maintained by a local historical society of which a member accompanied us during the two days.
An old picture of the camp taken from the hill where the white stone-letters are stacked. The railway line can clearly be seen in the centre of the picture.
Although we searched the areas around the old hotel and hospital area, ferrous contamination made it almost impossible to pinpoint targets – there were just too many old rusted tin cans and the such.
But this did not deter the “bottle digging platoon” as a huge ash pit // rubbish dump was lying on the south western side of the railway line. It has been dug before but because of its huge size, maybe 10% was covered before our arrival.
I have little experience of bottle digging, but this is the first old dump that I have seen that went upwards and not downwards into the ground – it actually forms a mount as the rubbish was probably dumped on the veldt and then covered by soil instead of digging a pit – maybe the soldiers and hospital staff were just too lazy going // getting down? Dig it?
Here are some pictures ...
The guy in the centre of the picture pointing towards the kopje is actually a South African Police Officer and member of the local Historical Society.
This was our last two days of the trip. In the coming week I will do a post on the prize giving and best finds of this wonderful 2013 hunt.
Boer War Hunt : Day 5 : A Freezing but Fabulous Day at Naauwpoort : Part 2 : Our Actual Hunt
On the 5th day of the trip we got up at 5 in the morning for a 70 kilometre drive to Naauwpoort, a small town south of Colesburg where a huge British camp was situated during the Anglo Boer war.
When we left Norvalspond the temperature was quit accommodating, but when we stopped for pictures at the old British fort at Naauwpoort, it was freezing – and some of the guys only had T-shirts on!
From there we took an old gravel road to the old camp site that got narrower and narrower until we had to do some “bundu bashing” for the last kilometre or so ... I did not tell Mariana about it when I got home as I was driving her car!
According to old pictorial evidence, it was a huge camp, but when we reached the spot, it was strewn with rusted 110-year old Bully beef tins and other ferrous metals that made detecting almost impossible. Coupled with the freezing cold, we decided to leave the camp site for a warm cup of coffee at the old renovated Railway Restaurant in Naauwpoort.
From there on we went to farm that had some ploughed fields on which numerous Boer War artefacts were found in the past – including a gold Sovereign or three...
Compared to the previous days, this was easy digging and many nice finds were made – I had a nice regimental button - a 4th Dragoon Guards Button that won me the best find of the day. Most of the guys did well and at midday we had a nice barbeque under some trees near the field where Lukas shot the movie scene of Colin from the UK on the Bush Toilet! See link here ...
Then it was back to the ploughed field again – a farm foreman told us that the British Offices used to have a Polo Field nearby that some of the guys also searched – but I am not sure what was found there.
It was our last day staying at Norvalspond so we returned back to hotel earlier than usual for the daily prize giving and to pack and get everything ready for the second stage of the trip – the last two days at De Aar.
. . .
See my post tomorrow of our last two days hunt at De Aar
Boer War Hunt : Day 5 : A Freezing but Fabulous Day at Naauwpoort : Part 1 : Old Historical Pictures
Part 1 is only a few historical pictures taken in or near the Naauwpoort area that I have downloaded from various sources on the internet.
Soldiers of Colonel Porter with bayonets ready practicing to meet a Boer Cavalry charge, Naauwpoort 13 December 1900 . (Boer War 5th Dragoon Guards at Naauwpoort photograph)
Boer War, South Africa, 1899-1902: Panorama of NAAUWPOORT
General Kelly-Kenny, dauntless British Commander of the 6th Divison inspecting Naauwpoort Camp', 1900 (c).
South Australian Infantry lined up for inspection by the General at Naauwpoort, South Africa
NAAUWPOORT JUNCTION : On the 19th Nov 1899, Gen. Wauchope carried out an order to reoccupy Naauwpoort Junction. With him went half of 2nd Black Watch, half a Btn of Berkshires 70 NSW Lancers and two 9-pounder muzzleloaders. Fortuitously the train carrying the 2nd Black Watch had just passed over a culvert when it was blown up by the Boers.
Whilst here the 2nd Black Watch built earthworks and made a reconnaissance towards Colesberg where the Boers were in force. On the 23rd November C Company, under Captain Cumming-Bruce, when acting as part of an escort to General French's reconstruction train, came under fire from some Boers near Arundel.
Half the Btn stayed at Naauwpoort whilst the other half arrived at Orange River station arriving around Nov 28th. Officer's claymores had been left along with all sporrans. To replace the sporran an apron of khaki drill was worn and all ranks carried the rifle.
See part 2 – our actual hunt at Naauwpoort posted below...
Those of you that received my Treasure Talk SA Metal Detecting Newsletter way back when, will remember this edition (see picture below) where a British Soldier is shown sitting on a rock. The second picture was taken a 100 years later of the farmer sitting on the same rock.
The original picture below ...
The pictures were taken at the British Camp at Slingersfontein that we searched on the 4th day of the hunt. Many units from Australia and New Zealand (fighting on the side of the Brits) were involved in military engagements in this area and a small hill nearby is still known today as New Zealand Hill – see here for more info
The first few pictures were taken at the home of our farmer friend Anthony who invited us for a midday barbeque (“braai”) on his farm – throughout the years he’s been a wonderful friend of our group.
The farmer (Anthony) on the right and Des from Ireland on the left.
Victorian Three Pence (“Tickey”) of 1891 found by the new kid on the block – The Hotel Owner (Barend) who joined us for his first metal detecting outing!
Gerry’s (UK) Worcester badges
Tonie congratulating Simon for the biggest haul of the day and winning him a Silver Paul Kruger ZAR shilling sponsored by Tonie. Simon himself sponsored a ton of prizes – just like last year – Thanks Simon!
Barend the Hotel Owner receives his “Rookie of the Trip” prize from Mike for the Silver 1891 Victorian Tickey (3d) he found.
Colin from the UK receives his prize for the best find of the day being a gold gilded Officers Field Artillery Button.
Springfontein is a small (almost ghost) town on the Free State side of the Orange River.
During the Anglo-Boer War, there was a British concentration camp in the district. Five hundred and sixty eight people of all ages are recorded in the Springfontein Grave Register as having died there between April the fourth and the end of 1901. Their graves can be seen in the concentration camp cemetery. During the war the camp was visited by Emily Hobhouse during her investigations of conditions in the camps.
We obviously did not search the graveyard area. The old Concentration campsite was also out of bounce because most of this area is today situated in the town/residential area with lots of modern junk strewn everywhere.
We did search part of the old municipal dump area that dates from the Boer War era. Lukas had to drive all the way to Trompsburg to get permission from the proper authorities for us to dig on a municipal waste site – go figure!
Later in the afternoon we moved to an area close to an informal settlement where an old British camp was situated but the ground was so rock hard that even the most hardened hunters in our group declared it a lost cause. I barrowed a massive self made digging tool weighing 30 kilograms from Danie, but the thing just bounced off the ground. How some guys managed to dig holes and find some stuff are beyond me?!
Later in the afternoon, we had a nice barbeque on a local farmer’s farm. He had a small museum (mostly old farming implements and the such) and a so called “man cave” with a small bar with lots of old books, historical stuff and vintage sporting equipment that were enjoyed by all.
We were all dead tired when we arrived back at the Hotel at Norvalspond.
Finds-wise it was not our best day of the trip but as the old adage goes – a bad day in the field is always better than a nice day at the office!
Group picture taken the morning at the small block house. The flag of Cork is shown. It is the town where Des from Minelab stays.
Group picture taken the afternoon at the graveyard in Springfontein. It is the only military graveyard of the Anglo-Boer War where Boer and Brit were buried together.
The farmers house where we had the barbeque.
What could this be? Any ideas?
...and the Heaviest haul of the day went to Jomo – The ZAR shilling prize sponsored by Tonie.
Colin from the UK calling on a Red Indian god for some detecting help – we had to inform him that he actually was in Africa and not North America (LOL)
Fourth prize of the day went to Dave van Rensburg. At 74, he was the oldest member of our group.
Third prize of the day went to Pierre (If I remember correctly it was for a Royal Irish Regimental button that I found at the rubbish dump area)
Second prize of the day went to Gerry (Dino from the UK)
First Prize of the day went to Robert for his South African Constabulary button
The last picture below is a stunning shot – some dug from dawn to dusk ...
The second day was a bit of a difficult hunt as we did not know where exactly the old (British) Kloof Camp was situated.
Jomo did his homework well with his research and had a good idea of the old battle lines and gun emplacements but we did not have an exact location of the camp itself. When we arrived at the farm (it actually belongs to the municipality from whom we received full permission to search), the gate was locked and we had to climb over the gate with a 2+ kilometre walk awaiting us.
We split up into smaller groups and our group followed a small creek until we reached a small abandoned settlement with red-brick ruins, rock hedges and lots of old glass & pottery pieces scattered around.
Here we did find evidence of British military presence but also more modern items (I picked up a 1961 Half Cent for example!) but the actual camp evaded us. We still don’t know where it is!
From there we moved on to a small hill just outside Colesberg where a smaller British camp was situated. This was a wonderful site and good items were coming up thick and fast.
We had lunch at an Inn in town and then went back to the site again where more nice items were found.
I cannot remember who won what for which entries that night but the winners names are shown under the last few pictures below.
Mike receives a silver Paul Kruger ZAR shilling from Tonie (who sponsored one for each day of the trip for the heaviest haul/hoard of the day)
Tinus receive the prize for the fourth best find of the day from his father Mike who was the master of ceremony every night. Mike works for the South African Broadcast Corporation so was cut out for the task!
Gerry receives the prize for the third best find of the day
Jomo receives the prize for the second best find of the day
Luigi from the the prize for the best find of the day for the Army Service Corps Badge that he found.
Here is more info on the area for those interested...
The first day we searched the areas around Norvalspond that lies some 40 km east-north-east of Colesberg and 43 km west-north-west of Venterstad, on the southern bank of the Orange River, just below the Gariep Dam. Afrikaans for Norval’s ferry, it is named after an enterprising Scot who constructed a ferry here in 1848.
For those interested in this area, see this link ...
"When Generals Lemmer, Grobler and Olivier retreated from the Cape Colony and the Colesberg district with their men, they damaged the railway bridges across the Orange River. When Bloemfontein fell to the English, the British were dependent on the bridges for supplies and feed for their horses. Therefore, at the end of March 1900, the English started repairing the bridges across the Orange River, among them the bridge at Norvalspont and Bethulie. The wagon-bridge at Bethulie was too weak to carry full-laden trains, thus the only other crossing-point was a pont-bridge built by the army, at Norvalspont. Soldiers were stationed in the koppies nearby to guard the bridges"
Here are some pictures from the first day. Simon won the overall prize with the Sovereign holder that was found that day and Jono & Luigi the sponsored ZAR Shilling (donated by Tonie) for the heaviest load...
(At midday we stopped detecting for 80 minutes to listen to the Rugby match between the Springboks and the Aussies that we won)
Here are some pictures – the last lot was taken at the prize giving the night at the Hotel at Norvalspond