Pilgrim’s Rest Cemetery and Robbers Grave is situated in Pilgrim’s Rest in Mpumalanga, South Africa.
Dead people from all over the world, in particular from Canada, Wales, Ireland and England, are buried here. All part of the cosmopolitan digger’s community who were seeking their fortune during the gold rush days. Most of the graves are of those who did not make a fortune on the goldfields. The few who did, left Pilgrim’s Rest while the going was still good!
One grave in particular though stands out as it is the only grave facing in a different direction to the others, away from the sun. It is of an unnamed man who was accused of stealing. There are varying stories concerning this unnamed man, the first being that he was convicted of stealing a tent, which was a very valuable possession in the late 1800’s as it was considered a man’s “home”. A second story is that the man was a persistent robbery, who was constantly being evicted from town and was at some point found dead just outside the town and they buried him here, but with his grave in the opposite direction.
A third story has been brought to light by Hans Bornman in his book “Cockney Liz Legendary Barmaid of Barberton”. Here is said that a man by the name of Roy Spencer, who was engaged to Liz Cockney, was wrongly accused and shot by a friend of stealing his gold. The friend, Walter Scott, later found his gold in a purse in his tent and in his drunken remorse took his own life. Roy was thus mistakenly buried as a robber.
Whatever the truth may be and even if you do not wish to visit the grave, the walk up to the cemetery just above Main Street is worth it just for the beautiful views across the village and valley below.
No admission fee is charged.
Rainfall occurs mainly in the mid-summer months, with December and January seeing the highest levels.
Summer months, November to March will have average temperatures of between 14˚C and 24˚C.
Winter months, May to August will have average temperatures of between 4˚C and 19˚C.
There are daily flights from Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town into the Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport in Mombela (Nelspruit). Car rental companies are available for easy access to the surrounding areas with Pilgrim’s Rest being just over an hour away along the R537. Road trips from Johannesburg to Pilgrim’s Rest via the N12 will take about 4 hours.
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