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Museum & Heritage

The Goudkoppie Heritage Hill is situated on the right hand side of the N12 entering Klerksdorp from the Johannesburg side. Upon passing the first traffic light after entering Klerksdorp, look out for the turn off to the Wimpy restaurant on the left hand side of the N12. After turning off the N12 and passing the Wimpy, continue on the paved road parallel to the N12 leading in the direction of Johannesburg till reaching the ornate iron gates forming the entrance to the Heritage Site.

Geological History

More than 2000 million years ago the whole KOSH area was part of a huge inland sea which stretched from the present Evander Goldfields in the East, through the East Rand, Johannesburg, the West Rand, Carletonville and Klerksdorp to the south of Welkom.
A variety of minerals, including gold, were transported by rivers and floods from the hinterland to this inland sea. Those minerals were deposited on the shores of the sea and sedimentation took place. (Sedimentation means that material settles at the bottom of a liquid and also the process of forming sedimentary rocks). Due to the action of the waves of the sea, the minerals were concentrated into mass layers (called conglomerate). These gold-rich layers later became the famous gold reefs of the Witwatersrand Super Group.
More sedimentary layers were formed over millions of years. Due to crustal movement of the earth, erosion, violent volcanic action and an enormous meteorite that crashed to the earth 2028 million years ago near Vredefort in the Free State, this whole area was tilted at an angle. The water flowed away and evaporated over a long period of time and today we can see the exposed Ada May Reef on Goudkoppie.
The enormous impact of the meteorite, 10 km in diameter, caused an explosion deep underground which pushed some of the earth's inner crust to the surface, leaving a dome of granite. The impact also threw up a trio of crater-like rings covering an area of about 150 km. It had the same effect on the crust of the earth as that of a stone being cast into a pool of water: a series of concentric ripples. In the case of water the surface soon becomes smooth again, but the ripples caused by the meteorite remained as a series of hills. Klerksdorp lies well within the influence of the meteorite impact. Therefore Goudkoppie is the direct result of the meteorite: 7 minutes after it crashed to the earth to create the world-famed Vredefort Dome.

The arrival of modern humans

Much has changed since the time of the inland sea until the arrival of the Early Stone Age 2 million years ago. Even more changes in the appearance and climate of this area took place before modern humans from the Late Stone Age populated the Klerksdorp district about 10 000 years ago. Still it must have had enough water and a lush vegetation to satisfy the needs of those nomadic hunters. Stone tools found on Goudkoppie testify to their presence here and include quartzite tools which were probably used as weapons as well as engraving tools on the softer sandstone. A large amount of chippings and implements are to be found on the hill, especially in the valley.
A few thousand years later more changes took place: The wild animals disappeared and African and White people arrived, bringing with them first the Iron Age and then the Industrial Age.

The discovery of gold

In 1886 Apie Roos took a sample of Witwatersrand conglomerate (a common rock formation find on Goudkoppie Heritage Hill) to the Rand for assaying. The sample was obtained from an exposure at the Commonage Reef conglomerate. News of the discovery of gold led to a gold rush on the Commonage.
On 11 July 1887 the farm Rietkuil, west of Klerksdorp, was proclaimed an area for gold diggings. In the same month the commonage was made available for prospecting.
Eventually the commonage was surveyed and four syndicated companies were formed to mine the area around and to the south of the Adamay Hill (Goudkoppie). In 1888 all four were in operation, but it didn't proof to be profitable. By 1891 the company collapsed and the land was abandoned, with the Ada May Reef on the hill proven barren and the Commonage Reef below the oxidised zone being refractory, making it too costly to extract the gold by amalgamation with mercury. In 1896 after the introduction of the new cyanide process the Ada May/Rose claims were taken up by the Klerksdorp Proprietary Mines Limited, who worked payable sections of the Commonage Reef on a limited scale. No further mining was ever carried out on the hill itself. All traces of the mining plant and material were removed in 1901. All that remains today are the entrances to the old mine shafts.

Second South African War of Independence

Mining activities were influenced by the start of the Second War of Independence (also known as the Anglo Boer War) on 11 October 1899. Goudkoppie also featured in this war. A British regiment was stationed on the hill and a regimental badge as well as the initials of some soldiers was engraved on the rocks near the survey beacon at the top of the hill. Another proof of their occupation of the area is the foundation of a block house.
The replica of the block-house on Goudkoppie is the design of S.R. Rice of the Royal Engineers. His design consisted of two concentric cylinders of corrugated iron with an inner space of 15 cm. The space between the two cylinders was filled with gravel to make it bullet-proof. A door and loopholes were the only openings in the structure.
The Rice-type block-house had two major advantages: It was inexpensive and easy to erect. Because the modules of the Rice block-house were pre-manufactured, five sappers and 15 unschooled labourers were able to erect a block-house within 5 hours.
The block-house on Goudkoppie served various purposes. Not only was it a way to protect the railway line, but also served as a watch-post for the eastern side of Klerksdorp - particularly of the concentration camp. The block-house was also part of the signal plan with Potchefstroom, which is evident in the British name for the hill - Signal Hill.       .
The Rice-type blockhouse had a garrison of six troops and a non-commissioned officer. There were four blacks per blockhouse. Their main task was to stand guard during the night, that's why they were referred to as the Black Watch. The garrison didn't sleep in the block-house but in tents or the trench surrounding the block-house.
Their effort to trap the commandos in the Western Transvaal was rather unsuccessful.
Because the Rice block-houses were sold per tender after the war only the rock foundations of such block-houses are to be found. Only six original block-houses still exist in South Africa.

Plant life

The British unknowingly left a heritage of certain varieties of plants when they were stationed here. Seeds coming from the fodder imported from England for their horses were excreted and so a new kind of vegetation was introduced in South Africa and on the Ada May hill, including the well-loved cosmos found in abundance along our roads and the not so loved kakiebos.
There are more than 70 grass and herb species on the hill. Most of the trees and shrubs have interesting or medicinal uses. Many of these plants were used traditionally and are still used by traditional doctors as alternative medicine.

Points of Interest

Please refer to the map with number indications on the last page.


Tswana/Barolong people inhabited this area since hundreds of years ago. Settlements, some of them very large, existed for example on Platberg, Buisfontein, Oudorp Koppies and on farms in the Hartbeesfontein area. It is estimated that thousands of people lived in some of these settlements. The surrounding walls, cattle kraals and hut foundations can still be clearly identified - some of them still in a very good condition.
A settlement was surrounded by a series of semi-circular stone walls, about 1,5 m high, linked together to give an almost continuous scalloped surrounding wall. Each wall segment served to protect a hut. The kraals were more or less in the middle of the settlement. The terrace walls were built to prevent erosion.



As it would have been too costly to build a replica of a whole settlement it was decided to depict only the area occupied by one family group in a settlement and to build three different types of huts from that period.
The hut on the northern side represents a typical hut from ca 1750. The inner apartment was used as a sleeping-place for the parents. It served also as a store-room for clothing and arms. The darkness inside is convenient to conceal the property from the knowledge of neighbors or strangers. Representing the form of the human body the small door-opening is larger at the top. Sometimes a small partition just inside the door-opening served to make it even darker and more difficult to see inside. The outer apartment, covering only half to two-thirds of the inner apartment, was for the children. Some huts also had a veranda. Note that the door is the only opening. The space between the top of the wall and the roof is for air circulation. Walls were formed by upright wooden posts. The interstices were filled up with interwoven twigs and the whole plastered over with a mixture of cow-dung and clay to give the appearance of a smooth wall.
In the middle is a small beehive hut that could either have been used by a (Ghoya) servant or by a poor family. Inside is a small table built with stones. The ring of stones at the base of the thatch was to prevent water from running into the hut or wild animals from scratching a way under the thatch. Note the sliding door.
On the western side is a replica of a hut from ca 1820. The walls were built in the same way as that of the earlier type, and the hut itself was still only a place to sleep in, store clothing and arms. The small veranda served as a shelter against the sun and the low veranda wall was built with stones and then plastered over.
In all instances the actual living area was that surrounded by the reed screen. The enormous granary stood there and it was also the area where food was prepared. Due to the highly combustible material of the hut the fire for cooking purposes was always very small and made in hollow with raised sides.

Nr. 2: Cattle Kraal

Cattle were vital for the food security of any Setswana community and also presented a valuable asset in the absence of a formalized monetary system. These valuable assets had to be protected from theft and predators, therefore a stone cattle pen (nowadays colloquially known as a

Nr. 2: War Graffiti

During the Second South African War of Independence (also known as the Anglo Boer War) between 1899 and 1902, a large British Army garrison was stationed in Klerksdorp and a significant Army presence was also maintained on Goudkoppie Hill itself. A bored British Commonwealth soldier (one McNab, originating from Sidney in Australia) scratched his name into the rocks at Nr. 2 (indicated on the map).

Nr. 3: Remains of a Blockhouse

During the Anglo Boer War the British Army erected two blockhouses (i.e. small forts) on Goudkoppie Hill to protect the vital railway line south of the hill.  At Nr. 3 as indicated on the map the foundation of one of these blockhouses can still be seen.

Gold Mine Shaft

Late in the 19th Century gold was discovered in the Klerksdorp district. Several exploration shafts were dug on Goudkoppie Hill itself. At Nr.4 as indicated on the map one of these mine shafts can still be viewed. Note that the entrance is blocked by large boulders. During the Struggle, the previous Government (fearing that these abandoned mine shafts would be used as bases of operation by insurgents (or so called terrorists, to use the then popular term) ordered them closed.


Map of Goudkoppie

Follow the trail marked with arrows.