Final report on the historical and archaeological investigation of the historical Coach House on the farm Wemmershuis 379 JT, near Belfast Mpumalanga


During 2008 Archaetnos cc was contracted by SNA Civil & Structural Engineers, on behalf of TRAC, to assist with the investigation and exhumation of a number of unknown graves, and graves older than 60 years of age, located in a semi-formal cemetery on the remaining extent of the farm Wemmershuis 379 JT in the Belfast District, Mpumalanga Province. The upgrade of the R33 (old Carolina road to Belfast) was being undertaken in this area, and the graves were to be directly impacted upon by the road construction operations.

After consultation with the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) and the landowner of the farm adjacent to the road it was decided to relocate the graves a few meters north, outside of the road reserve, to a fenced-in area, clearly marked with an information plaque.

While undertaking the 2008 grave exhumation and relocation project we also undertook a superficial survey of the area and a number of other historical sites and features were also identified. The sites included an old coach house related to the late 19th century Delagoa Bay transport road that ran through the area, as well as a British fortification and blockhouse dating to the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902).

In October 2010, Archaetnos cc approached Trans African Concessions (Pty) Ltd (TRAC) about the possibility of funding historical and archaeological research on these sites. TRAC accepted our proposal and subsequently agreed to fund research on the historical coach house on Wemmershuis. The archaeological fieldwork was undertaken during April 2011, after a permit from the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) was obtained (Permit No 80/11/01/001/51).

This document represents a final report on the historical research and archaeological investigation of the coach house. Three excavations were conducted, with two trenches done on the structure itself and a third on a possible refuse midden (ash heap). The fieldwork also included detailed mapping and drawing of the excavations and the structure. A number of conclusions, based on the results of the investigations, as well as recommendations regarding the way forward (the preservation and management) in terms of the historical sites on Wemmershuis, including the coach house, are made at the end of the report.

Report by

A.J. Pelser & A.C. van Vollenhoven (L.AKAD.SA.)