A historical archaeological investigation of the Ngotso Mouth Camp of Steinaecker’s Horse, close to Balule, Kruger National Park (Report no. II)


Steinaecker’s Horse was a voluntary unit who fought on the side of the British during the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902). The manned various outpost in the Lowveld and had the task of preventing the Boers to make contact with supporters in Mozambique.

The Ngotso Mouth site is one of a number of sites found during a survey of sites linked to the Steinaecker’s Horse military unit. Historical information indicates that the site was nothing more than a temporary camp site of the unit. It is known that there were also Iron Age people living in close vicinity to the site.

The site was excavated in order to learn more about Steinaecker’s Horse, but remains from the Iron Age people were also excavated as these were mixed with those of Steinaecker’s Horse. The research also aimed at comparing cultural material from the site with that excavated at other outposts of the unit.

During the first excavation season in 2008 five excavations were conducted. These were all conducted on areas where cultural objects and ash were lying on the surface. No indication of structures could be found.

During the second excavation season in 2013 three excavation were done, while one of the excavations of the first season was extended. One of these excavations was on an area containing cultural material and ash. The other two were done on areas containing numerous cultural objects. A surface collection of cultural artefacts was also made.

In total number of 5 436 artefacts were uncovered during the first excavation season.

During the second season 4 239 artefacts were excavated, excluding the faunal material that were excavated. This is quite a large number, but not surprising, since the excavated areas were more than likely refuse middens.

From the objects it is concluded that the site definitely had a military presence and that it can therefore probably be associated with Steinaecker’s Horse. The objects are mostly similar to those excavated at the northernmost outpost of the unit close to Letaba, at the Gaza Gray post and at the Sabi Bridge post. Certain aspects rather linked to the Iron Age were however also identified.

Report by

Anton C. van Vollenhoven BA, BA (Hons), DTO, NDM, MA (UP), MA (US), DPhil (UP), Man Dip (TUT), DPhil (US)