Gawie de Beer Nature Reserve in Deneysville, Free State
STONE AGE RUINS
Under the protection of the National Monuments Commission
Because of the strong flow of the Vaal River and it once teaming with wildlife, what we now call Deneysville attracted a variety of indigenous and transient people over a wide time span. Many years ago, some upright walking hairy ape-like men lived along the riverbanks in hollowed out caves. They used finely chiselled stone implements, which have been found here.
Over a long period of time Tswana speaking people migrated from the north and built and settled in a band of stone igloo-like stone structures. They stretch from Thabazimbi in the west to Deneysville in the east, where ruins dating back some 600 years abound. Their arrival in Deneysville displaced hordes of Khoi-Khoi who migrated from the south and settled here as hunters over a period of many of hundreds of years. The Tswana speaking inhabitants hunted, but also planted crops.
They in turn were displaced by the roving impis of Chaka Zulu and other warring Bantu tribes. With the departure of the Tswanas, the Khoi-Khoi returned and lived in the circular stone buildings that had been abandoned. They hunted, but now also turned to cultivated crops.
They made iron spears and tips, as did the Tswanas, using air bellows to make the metal workable. The coming of the white settlers displaced the Khoi who now became a more nomadic people retreating to semi-desert areas.
The construction of the Vaal Dam commenced in 1932 to provide jobs during the depression. The housing of the workers was the start of a populated Deneysville, which was named after Deneys Reitz who built two stone holiday cottages which now constitutes St Peters Church.
(Information supplied by Gordon Young)
There is a full exhibition of artefacts on display at the Deneysville library.
The Gawie de Beer Nature Reserve heritage site provides a stunning lookout point over the dam and the town of Deneysville and is an ideal spot for quiet reflection and meditation.
Please close the gate once you have visited.
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