ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES ON THE PROPERTY

There are fascinating archaeological sites on the estate itself, which are easily accessible to anyone visiting Valley of the Rainbow. On aerial photos one can see circular stone structures on mountain slopes, standing upright or toppled over, some weathered into unusual shapes or angles. The owner of Valley of the Rainbow among others questioned the origins of these structures. Consulting Dr Alex Schoeman of the Wits University Archaeological Department who has been studying thousands of these stone circles dotting the landscape not only in Nelspruit but also Waterval Boven, Machadodorp, Carolina, Badplaas, Dullstroom and Barberton areas.

Through her thorough research, she believes that these stone walls were built by an indigenous tribe called the Bokoni, roughly 700 to 800 years ago. Although she notes that little is known about the Bokoni, Pedi oral tradition talks about it.

After coming across these stone walls, many academics and researchers have argued that these structures are incredibly complex and that black tribes weren't capable of building anything so intricate back then. It is believed that no tribe would have had the right interest or the right abilities to pull together a big team to work in the area and create these walls. With that being said we don't know how else they could have come about. After a period of dormancy, it gradually became accepted that they were built by indigenous tribe, based partly on oral history and partly on archaeological research.

If you look at a map, this area was right in the middle of the trade route, making it a crucial spot for importing and exporting. While the Bokoni tribes inhabited the area in the 1500s, the area was taken over by the Pedi in the 1800s as they were significant importers and exporters of ivory and skins at the time. What we believe is that while fighting for their land, the Bokoni probably acted as toll marshals for people running traffic through the area. At some point, the Pedi won the battles in order to control the key ports, at this point the stone walls were built on the mountain slopes overlooking the valleys so that the Bokoni tribes could strategically defend themselves from Pedi attacks.

If you wish to visit the circular stone structures on the estate, please ask our guide to accompany you to the two most accessible sites on the property.