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Blood River Monument and Museum Complex
Dundee district, KwaZulu-Natal

Coert STEYNBERG: Artist



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28°06'19.75" S 30°32'26.39" E

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The Blood River Monument is a tribute to the battle of Blood River (1838), a focal point of the Afrikaners' cultural heritage.

A monument was erected on the site of the battle in 1947, consisting of an ox wagon executed in granite by the sculptor Coert Steynberg. In 1971 a laager of 64 ox wagons cast in bronze (by Unifront Foundry in Edenvale - Fanie de Klerk and Jack Cowlard) was erected, and unveiled on 16 December 1998.

(Blood River Heritage Site; Wikipedia)

The monument is across the river from the Ncome Monument and Museum Complex, with the Reconciliation Bridge connecting them.

Transcription of the English wording on the granite stone of the Wagon Sculpture:


Sculptor: Coert Steynberg

Material: Granite and marble

In 1928 the Blood River centenary committee requested Steynberg to design a
monument to commemorate the battle of Blood River, which took place on
16 December 1838

His jaw bone wagon design was accepted. The panels on the sides of the
wagon depict the Vow, the victory and the fulfilment of the Vow, namely
the construction of the Church of the Vow in Pietermaritzburg

The cornerstone was laid during the Symbolic Ox-wagon trek on 16 December
1938 in the presence of some 40 000 onlookers and the monument was
completed in 1939. As a result of the outbreak of the Second World War
(1939-1945) the inauguration was postponed until 1947 when it took place in
front of a crowd of approximately 50 000 festival attendees.

Initially the wagon was erected over the stone mount in the present wagon
laager. The stone mound could be seen through the 'window' in the bottom
of the wagon. With the erection of the wagon laager in 1971 this wagon
was moved to its current position.

Symbolically the jaw bone wagon is recorded as the home, fortress and church
of the Voortrekkers and is regarded as one of Steynberg's most
important sculptures.


Transcription of the English wording on the granite stone of the Bronze Wagon Laager:


King Dingane's powerful Zulu army and a group of Voortrekkers men
led by Andries Pretorius engaged in battle here on the banks of the
Ncome River on December 1838. This became known as the
battle of Blood River and according to historians this victory
of the Voortrekkers influenced the course of South African history

In the 1960s it was decided that the original laager of Andries Pretorius
would be replicated as accurately as possible. Kobus Esterhuizen
designed 64 life size bronzed steel wagons in a D-shape, that include whip
barriers, lanterns and open ammunition wagons.

Every wagon was modelled exactly like the Johanna van der Merwe
centenary replica which took part in the 1938 Symbolic Ox-wagon trek.

The wagons were cast by Universal Iron and Steel Foundaries and
then sprayed with sand [sandblasted] to clean the surface. A coat of zink,
followed by a coat of bronze was applied.

This replica laager was unveiled on 16 December 1971 by the prime minister,
B.J. Vorster.


Since the first photographs were taken in 2007 all the lanterns have disappeared. (Ed 2016)

Writings about this entry

Swart, Marius J. 1989. Afrikanerbakens. Johannesburg: Federasie van Afrikaanse Kultuurvereniginge. pg 238
van Tonder, JJ. 1977. Fotobeeld van 300 Monumente, Standbeelde en Gedenktekens langs die pad van Suid-Afrika. Krugersdorp: JJ van Tonder. pg 45