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Although today Grahamstown is approximately 40 miles from the sea, some 360 million years ago supporting evidence suggests that the area was a seashore lagoon complex, sheltered by barrier islands and tidal channels. Recent significant finds near the 1820 monument are from fossilized fish dating to this era. Man first put in an appearance approximately 1.5 million years ago when early Stone Age man colonized the area. Artifacts from this period have been found scattered across the veld. The San (Bushman) hunter-gatherers roamed the area for the past 10,000 years and the Khoi pastoralists who acquired domestic stock through close interaction with Bantu speaking people recognized the natural assets of the area and moved their stocks around to ensure sufficient grazing for their cattle arriving around 2000 years ago. The forefathers of the present day Xhosas had migrated in this direction along the coast from Natal by 800 AD. It was in this area where the south-western migration of the Xhosas came into contact with the Dutch trekboers pushing forward from the Western Cape. One of these early Dutch settlers was Lucas Meyer. In 1812 his former farm was chosen as the site of the military garrison which grew into Grahamstown, which is named after Col. John Graham. The colonial government of the Cape Colony had appointed him to enforce he nearby Fish River (which flows through Gary’s property) as its eastern frontier with the Xhosa nation and to curb growing friction over cattle and land. To supplement over-stretched military forces, the 1820 Settlers, close to 4000 men, women and children, were brought from Britain. Attracted by the offer of farms in what was called the District of Albany, they were unaware that they were here to form a living chain of defense. Harsh conditions forced many into Grahamstown, hence the strong British influence in buildings, institutions and atmosphere.
By the time Grahamstown was designated the seat of administration for the Eastern Cape in 1836, it had grown into the largest center in the colony outside of Cape Town. However in the 1860’s the tide of history started turning and the action began shifting elsewhere. The military importance of Grahamstown declined when the garrison moved forward to King William’s town which was further into Xhosa territory. Although never industrially built today Grahamstown is best known for its long established schools, excellent university, many museums and numerous churches as well as the Standard Bank National Arts Festival which puts it in the spotlight every July. A visit to Grahamstown with its impressive cathedrals, numerous museums, military fort, Settlers Monument, Rhodes University and its historical background make this a must see location while you are in the Eastern Cape Province
For more information visit Grahamstown’s web site at: Grahamstown, Eastern Capehttp://www.southafrica.net/za/en/articles/entry/article-southafrica.net-grahamstown
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Booking Agent - Brain Clark, Webmaster - Leesa Clark - Site updated January 13, 2016