This site was one of the most interesting sites that I have had the opportunity to work on, mostly as it was fairly intact and had the house not been demolished int he 1970s, it would have been a prime candidate for preservation. I had the misfortune of loosing most of the photographs and all the preliminary analysis of the artefactual material when my computer crashed in June 2008. Thank goodness the preliminary report had been submitted.

At the end of 2009 construction on this site was started and the archaeological monitoring brief commenced. The end of 2010 draws close, and the finishing touches are being put in place. One of the conditions of the approval of the development is an interpretative display memorialising the historic layering of the site: the 18th century farm, the development of urban housing (Vernon Terrace), the Forced Removals and the context of the site as part of District Six.

Of great interest was a number of gaming pieces which were found in the late 19th century fill around the foundations of the building. These include limpet shells which had clearly been used either as checker pieces or some similar board game as the rims were worn smooth. They were also found stacked; as if the players had held their won pieces in their hand, and once the game was completed, left them where they were playing. Modified ceramics were also found.

 In November 2009, after nearly 2 years, development of this site has finally started. As required by the National Heritage Resources Act, the demolition of the remains of the farmhouse had to be monitored. The monitoring process is there, so that any features, which may have been missed during the course of the preceding impact assessments may be recorded. I was fairly confident that we had recorded as much of the building as possible. This, to my relief, turned out to be a fairly accurate assessment!

 One thing that we did miss, however, was part of the 19th century drainage system, which more or less followed the alignment of an earlier water course. During the 2007 field season, we did uncover a section of the water course. The remains of rubbish dumped into the stream gave as a mean date of when the stream was last used c1830s. We had assumed that after this date, that the stream had been built over. But, during the monitoring, the remains of a brick drainage system was uncovered. This has been photographed and mapped.

So, another piece of the puzzle falls in place: Artefacts found in the water course could be dated to the early 19th century, about 1830s, certainly not later than 1850, during which time people used the stream as a rubbish disposal unit. The drain appears on Snow's survey of Cape Town c1860. So one can deduce that the drain must have been constructed between 1830 and 1860.

Fieldwork at Welgelegen market garden in Cape Town

Stone packing technique

The story of the building history of a site can be read in the remaining walling, if you know what to look for.

Building techniques as well as sequencing can tell you which walls were built first, which walls are contemporary and which were added later.

Coursed rubble walling with large boulders with small pebble fill is typical of the 18th century. On this site it represents the earliest phase of construction.


Later 19th century coursed rubble walling is not as refined and appears to have been packed much less skillfully.