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Van Riebeeck's Hedge
Bishops Court, Kirstenbosch, Cape Town, Western Cape

Date:1660
Type:Fortifications
Status:Extant

Section within the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens: Declared a National Monument vide Gazette No 2346 of 17 April 1936 Government Notice No. 529 of 6 April 1936. See Van Riebeeck's Hedge, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

Section in Bishop's Court declared in 1945 Gazette No 3474 of 20 April 1945, Notice 642 of 11 April 1945. See Van Riebeeck's Hedge, Bishop's Court

Soon after the establishment of a refreshment station at the Cape by the Dutch East Indian Company (VOC) in 1652 under the control of Jan van Riebeeck the need was felt to protect the tiny settlement against attack form the interior as well as to prevent stock theft. This was effected by the planting of a wild almond hedge (Brabeium stellafolium) along the borders of what Van Riebeeck regarded as the settlement in 1660.

Even though the hedge grew well it proved to be ineffective as it was soon realised that cattle would have to be pastured outside the hedge, the area contained within having too little grazing. Thus the hedge was not effective as either a deterrent to stock thieves or as a demarcation of the limits of the settlement.

A section of the hedge, contained today within the bounds of the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens was declared a National Monument in 1936. The section of the hedge and the properties on which it is located was donated to the NMC in 1940 by the Bishopscourt Estate Cape (Pty.) Ltd and declared a National Monument in 1945.

The SAHRA Property Register lists the historical importance as being:

This Wild almond hedge was planted in 1660 on the instructions of Jan van Riebeeck to mark the boundaries of the settlement at the Cape. The two portions of the hedge which escaped destruction are the oldest declared national monuments in South Africa.


Writings about this entry

Hatfield, Denis. 1967. Some South African monuments. Cape Town: Purnell. pg 10
Oberholster, JJ. 1972. The historical monuments of South Africa. Cape Town: Rembrandt Van Rijn Foundation for Culture at the request of the National Monuments Council. pg 49
Potgieter, DJ (Editor-in-chief). 1972. Standard Encyclopaedia of South Africa [SESA] Volume 6 Hun-Lit. Cape Town: Nasou. pg 473
Van Riet Lowe, Clarence, Malan, BD & Commission for the Preservation of Natural and Historical Monuments, Relics and Antiques. 1949. The monuments of South Africa : Second, Revised and Enlarged Edition. Pretoria: Government Printer. pg 19-21