Montagu Town Guard Forts in Bergsig, Montagu, Western Cape
The history of the Montagu Town Guard Forts and how they came to be built appears to be rather fragmentary. Five forts have been located and recorded so far, but there could have been more. The following forts are a small but significant part of the historic heritage of Montagu and South Africa :
The Forts are an interesting survival from the Second Anglo-Boer War, even in their incomplete state. The four rectangular examples show a variety of plan shapes within a standard design framework. They are quite sophisticated in their construction, the walls being neatly built in random-coursed stonework, with plentiful use of ‘galleting’ (wedging smaller stones in between the rocks to give an even wall face); in particular the finish to the loopholes - and especially the corner ones - is notable. The use of a mixture of earth and small stones as a sort of mortar between the rocks in what is essentially a drystone wall construction, is common to other forts of this type. The protected entrance arrangements are simple and would no doubt have been effective in the event of attack.
It is often stated that forts from this and other wars “never fired a shot in anger”. This is invariably true; but an important purpose of a fortification is to act as a deterrent and, if it wasn’t attacked, it did its job!
It will be interesting to see if any further forts will ever be found to bring the number up to the possible 9 mentioned by Hester Hofmeyer.
Research contributions : Heinie Heydenrych, Mike Jones, Richard Tomlinson
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