Wildebeest Kuil Rock Art Centre

Archaeological / Landmarks in or near Barkly West, Diamond Fields in the Northern Cape, South Africa.

Northern Cape Tourist AttractionsWildebeest Kuil Rock Art Centre

Where? Barkly West Road, Barkley West, Northern Cape, South Africa

Overnight? Accommodation in Barkly West, in Northern Cape

More than a thousand years ago, the area that is now known as the Northern Cape Province was home to indigenous San tribes (also known as Bushmen). A core part of their culture was the rock art that they left behind, which told their stories and described their lives for generations of people afterwards to see and appreciate.

The rock etchings at the Wildebeest Kuil Rock Art Centre are thought to be the work of the ancient shaman – medicine men that claimed to use the powers they got through trance to heal people and to summon much-needed rain. It is thought that the shaman engraved these images into the rock faces as a way of inviting others to share the wonder of and draw inspiration from their spiritual contact.

They likely chose these sites based on which areas were significant according to their religious and traditional beliefs. The site at Wildebeest Kuil may have been an important one for the San as it might have served as an interface with the spirit realm for the artists.

What makes these engravings particularly pretty is that the gorgeous earthy colours of the various layers of rock are showcased. Deeper etchings are a different shade to those that are closer to the surface. There are more than 400 pieces of these etched pieces at Wildebeest Kuil, as well as an additional 300 pieces (approximately) that are smooth on the rock. Visiting the pieces of art in this unintentional exhibition gives you a glimpse into the Africa of centuries ago, and invites you to glimpse into a world that is so different from ours.

Wildebeest Kuil Rock Art Centre is situated in Barkley West, which is a small town on the northern banks of the Vaal River. It is only half an hour’s drive from the mining capital of Kimberley.

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