Valley of the Rainbow. Belfast. Mpumulanga

Stofberg. Belfast

    Description

    Surrounded by mountains, indigenous forests and rivers and with a mild climate and malaria free this is a venue to experience peace and tranquility away from city life.

    The venue is near the towns of Dullstroom and Belfast, and is well situated on the premier tourist routes form Johannesburg and Pretoria to the tourist attractions on the eastern escarpment and lowveld regions of Mpumalanga, South Africa.

    Driving distance on the N12/N4 double carriageway from Johannesburg/Pretoria is approximately 2 hours.

    The diversity of fauna and flora is exceptional for the area, with a variety of birds, indigenous tree species and wildlife species evident.

    WITPOORT WATER MILL

    Towards the end of the 19th Century, Willem Jacobus Volschenk built a beautiful little watermill on his farm Witpoort. This mill was to play a small but vital role in the Anglo-Boer War. Martial rumblings erupted in 1899 and. As war fever gripped the country Jan Smuts was moved to write in a memorandum to the Transvaal Executive: "South Africa stands on the eve of a dreadful bloodbath." Sadly he was right.

    General Ben Viljoen, member for Johannesburg on the Transvaal Volksraad not only led the Johannesburg Commando, but led the Boers in skirmish after skirmish around Lydenburg. As fighting raged in the area, the Witpoort Watermill proved a vital asset for the Boers. With its three sieves, ranging in texture from very fine for human consumption to less fine for chickens and courser for cattle, the mill kept the Boers fed.

    ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES ON THE PROPERTY

    There are fascinating archaeological sites on the property and is easily accessible to anyone visiting Valley of the Rainbow.  On aerial photo’s one can see circular stone structures on mountain slopes

    The question what are the origins of these structures.
    Dr Alex Schoeman of the Wits University Archaeological Department explains the possible origin of these sites. There are similar stone circles dotting the landscape around Nelspruit, Waterval Boven, Machadodorp, Carolina, Badplaas, Dullstroom and Barberton areas.

    The stone walls date back no more than 700 to 800 years and were built by an African tribe called the Koni. “We know very little about them”, she says. ”The homeland of the Koni had been long destroyed by the time Westerners arrived, which is why it’s gone from memory, although Pedi oral tradition talks about it”

    The walls were part of much larger towns that included homesteads and cattle enclosure, with roads running between them. On the outskirts are agriculture terraces, proving that the tribes had mastered the art of land and cattle management.

    It is estimated that at least 20,000 people could have lived in some of these settlement prior to the 1800s. And with such a large workforce, they could have been able to build the settlements using manual labour rather than levitation Schoeman says sporadic research in the area began in the 1930s, but academics at that time argued that black tribes weren’t capable of building anything so intricate. “People couldn’t figure out who lived there.

    These structures are incredibly complex and nobody had either the right interest or the right abilities to pull together a big team to work in the area.

    After a period of dormancy it gradually became accepted that they were built by Africans, based partly on oral history and partly on archaeological research.”

    The Koni tribes inhabited the area in the 1500s. By the 1800s the Pedi had moved in and wrested control of this geographically crucial spot. “If you look at a map it’s right on the way to Delagoa Bay (Maputo), and the Pedi, Swazi and Zulu kingdoms all had large imports and exports of ivory and skins in the 1700s. This was right in the middle of the trade route, so the Koni probably acted as toll marshals for people running traffic through the area. At some point the Pedi decided to take them out in order to control the key ports.” The reason therefore for these sites to be situated on plato’s on mountain slopes overlooking the valleys is for the Koni tribes to strategically defend themselves form Pedi attacks. If you wish to visit the archaeological sites on the properties ask our guide to accompany you to the two most accessible sites on the property.

     

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