Nooitgedacht Glacial Pavements

National Monuments in or near Kimberley, Diamond Fields in the Northern Cape, South Africa.

Northern Cape Tourist AttractionsNooitgedacht Glacial Pavements

Where? The site is off the R31 between Kimberley and Barkly West. Take the Nooitgedacht turn-off 24 km north west of Kimberley, following the gravel road for about 5 km until you see the sign indicating the glacial pavements.

How? Call +27 (0)53 839-2700

Overnight? Stay in Kimberley, in Northern Cape

The scour marks on rock at Nooitgedacht farm, just outside Kimberley, were eroded by glaciers 290 million years ago. Back then the continents looked nothing like they do today. This belt of the Northern Cape, which stretches through Gauteng to Mpumalanga (geologists call it the Cargonian Highlands), lay close to the South Pole.

Glacial pavements, or ancient glacier rock formations, form when rocks become embedded in slowly moving ice sheets (glaciers). Over a period of time they polish and scour the earth beneath them leaving visible scratch marks behind.

Glacial pavements are a consolidated mixture of rock and mud left by the movement of glaciers during the Karoo Ice Age (also known as the Palaeozoic-age Dwyka Ice Age). They are not much to look at - to the untrained eye they are nothing more than stones covered in scratch marks - but to a geologist, they’re rather exciting.

At Nooitgedacht there are ‘drop stones’ carried here by glaciers. What makes this geological phenomenon even more exciting is that on these andesite glacial pavements are a series of rock engravings, or rock art, produced by ‘pecking out’ the shape of animals using a sharp stone. The artists are thought to be ancestors of the San and Khoe, and the art was left here during the past 1 500 years.

The engravings include animal and human depictions, and some abstract art in the form of geometric spirals and grids, similar to another site in the area - Driekops Eiland.

The site is a national monument.

To really appreciate the site, visit with a guide. You can contact the McGregor Museum (+27 (0)53 839-2700) in Kimberley for details.

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