The Blood River Heritage site located near Dundee in the province of KwaZulu-Natal is probably one of the unique and historic battlefields in South-Africa. On the 16th of December 1838, “464 Voortrekkers” or Pioneers, under the command of Andries Pretorius defeated King Dingane‘s approximately 10 000 regiments or “Impi”, under the command of General Ndlela kaSompisi.
The Blood River Monument was built as a tribute to the battle of Blood River, as it is an important chapter of the Afrikaners’ cultural heritage. The granite Jaw-bone Monument and the bronze wagon laager that was built on the original site of the 1838 wagon laager.
Blood River Heritage Site is said to be one of the unique battlefields in South Africa as the site witnessed a major battle between the outsider Voortrekkers and the native Zulu tribes.
The Site is named after a nearby river known as Ncome in isiZulu language and Bloedrivier in Afrikaans. To the east of this river lies the Ncome Monument and Museum Complex and the Blood River Monument and Museum Complex is to the west. These monuments were erected through the years to commemorate this significant battle in South African history.
Some historians have differing views of the events leading up to the 1838 Battle of Blood River. Hence, the site is therefore unique in that it is the only one in South Africa where two historic institutions are present on one battlefield.
A visit to both monuments and museum complexes on the Ncome-Blood River Heritage Site gives one a complete view of the events that took place before, during and after the 1838 Voortrekker-Zulu battle.
Blood River Monument
It consists of 64 replica Voortrekker wagons that are cast in bronze and arranged just as they were on the day of the famous battle. This formation is known as “Laager” in Afrikaans. Also on display are the replicas of three cannons that proved extremely decisive in halting the repeated Zulu charges against the laager.
It was officially opened in November 1999. Architecturally, the museum is unique as it takes its shape from the Zulu “war horn formation” that was initiated by the legendary Zulu king, Shaka kaSenzangakhona, or “Shaka Zulu” as he is more commonly known as.
The museum offers a renewed interpretation of the 1838 battle and offers insight into Zulu culture in general. In the Museum grounds, there is a Zulu war horn formation display, isisivivane (cairn) and a reed “garden”. The museum is also surrounded by a historical landscape directly relating to the great battle. Visitors can look forward to an interesting visit to the various monuments on the site and the museum and gift shop. The three-star lodge with four en-suite bedrooms as well as the Trekker restaurant offers rest and food for both the body and soul.
The Ncome-Blood River Heritage Site is situated 43 km from Dundee, South Africa.
Things to experience
One of the unique and historic battlefields in South Africa
A museum exhibit depicting the history of the Blood River Battle
Unique bronze wagon laager and the granite wagon monument
Exhibits about Zulu culture across the river at the Ncome museum
An infotainment DVD show in the information centre about the battle of Blood River