Nelspoort Rock Engraving Complex


Rock Engravings

The rock art site at Nelspoort covers a vast area and features hundreds of engravings. These were done by Bushmen (hunter-gatherer people also known as ‘/Xam’) and Khoe herders (also known as ‘Khoi-khoi’ and previously as ‘Hotttentots’) and settlers or even more modern people, as there is a certain amount of graffitti on the rocks of the area.

Nelspoort was once a farm known as Klipkraal. Nelspoort town is surrounded by dolerite koppies (between 1 000 and 1 400 m high) which form a poort or ravine through which the Sout River flows. These koppies are quite significant in an otherwise predominantly flat region.

The presence of water and varied biomes made this a favoured home for southern Africa’s First People – the Bushmen, and later Khoe herders and White farmers settled here. Each of these cultures has left their mark on the landscape but the most striking of these is the rock engravings, a legacy of the Bushmen.

At least three different rock engraving traditions are present:

  • Bushman
  • Khoe
  • Historic Period

Among the latter is a Swedish poem on rocks on a neighboring farm.