STELLENBOSCH ARCHAEOLOGICAL RESERVE
Dr Deacon spoke about the Stone Age in the Western Cape, (see below) and at the end of the talk, drew attention to the Earlier Stone Age site at Bosman’s Crossing in Stellenbosch which has been vandalised .She asked whether the audience felt it was worthwhile repairing and adding information about its significance on polished granite rather than on a bronze plaque which might be stolen. There was a lot of support for doing so and it was generally agreed that we should draw up a management plan and raise funds for the project.
IN A ROAD-MAKER’S BORROW-PIT HERE IN 1899 LOUIS PERINGUEY MADE THE FIRST DISCOVERY OF “STELLENBOSCH” STONE IMPLEMENTS AND THEREBY PROVED THE GREAT ANTIQUITY OF MAN IN SOUTHERN AFRICA
After publishing his find in the journal Nature in 1899, Louis Peringuey wrote more extensively in his report on The Stone Ages of South Africa in 1911: “At the foot of a steep hill called Papegaaiberg runs a small rivulet – a tributary of the Eerste River. The spur of the hill abuts on that rivulet and is intersected on one side by a cart road and by the railway cutting on the other. The space thus left has been used for a good many years as a brick field from which a thickness of 20 feet of material or more has been removed. I found there, in the vertical wall … two superposed layers of fractured, water worn boulders, spalls, nuclei, etc. They had been deposited on the granite foundation … which terminates abruptly on the bank of the Eerste River.”
Louis Albert Péringuey was born in Bordeaux, France, on 9 October 1855. He qualified as an entomologist specialising in Coleoptera and came to Cape Town as a consultant to investigate diseases in South African vineyards. His interest in entomology and archaeology led him to become Director of the South African Museum in Cape Town in 1906 and he worked there until his sudden death on 2 February 1924. He wrote many scientific papers describing new insect taxa and Stone Age sites in South Africa. His collections are divided between the Iziko South African Museum, Transvaal Museum, Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Genova and the collections of the German Entomological Institute.
A century of research by archaeologists has confirmed Peringuey’s observation that the stone implements found around Stellenbosch are indeed very old. They are included in the period known as the Earlier Stone Age (the Lower Palaeolithic in Europe) which covers the time between about 1.2 million and 250,000 years ago. Handaxes and cleavers, the most characteristic of the Earlier Stone Age implements, are found in many vineyards in the valleys of the Eerste, Berg, Breede and Olifants Rivers in the south-western Cape, and in similar situations throughout Africa, southern Europe, the Near East and India. They were multi-purpose cutting tools used for skinning and cutting up meat, breaking bones to remove the marrow, digging up roots, wood-working and other tasks.
All stone implements in South Africa belong to the state and are protected by the National Heritage Resources Act (Act 23 of 1999). They may not be removed from their place of origin, or sold, without a permit. In the Western Cape, applications for permits must be made to the provincial heritage resources authority, Heritage Western Cape, in the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport.
In acknowledgement of Peringuey’s work, this site at Bosman’s Crossing was declared a National Monument in 1961. When the National Heritage Resources Act replaced the National Monuments Act in 2000, all former national monuments became Provincial Heritage Sites. The Stellenbosch Archaeological Reserve is therefore a Provincial Heritage Site managed by Heritage Western Cape.