Blood River Heritage Site is probably one of the most unique battlefields in South Africa. The site witnessed a major confrontation between the Voortrekkers and amaZulu on 16 December 1838. The Voortrekkers fought under the skilful leadership of Andries Pretorius while King Dinganes impi was led by Ndlela kaSompisi.
The Site is named after a nearby river known as Ncome in isiZulu and Bloedrivier in Afrikaans. To the east of this river is the Ncome Monument and Museum Complex. The Blood River Monument and Museum Complex is located west of the river. These monuments were erected through the years to commemorate a significant battle in South African history.
Some Historians differ from the researched version of the events leading up to the 1838 Battle of Blood River (Slag van Bloedrivier or Impi yaseNcome). The site is therefore unique in that it is the only one in South Africa where two institutions are present on one battlefield
A visit to both monuments and museum complexes on the Ncome-Blood River Heritage Site gives one a more complete view of the events that took place before, during and after the 1838 Voortrekker-Zulu confrontation.
The Blood River Monument is a tribute to the battle of Blood River (1838), a focal point of the Afrikaners cultural heritage. The granite Jaw-bone Monument was designed by Coert Steynberg and the bronze wagon laager was built on the original site of the 1838 wagon laager.
It consists of 64 replica Voortrekker wagons cast in bronze and situated just as they were on the day of the famous battle. Also on display are replicas of the three cannons that proved so decisive in halting repeated Zulu charges against the laager.
Ncome Museum was officially opened in November 1999. Architecturally, the museum is unique. It takes its shape from the Zulu war horn formation. The Zulu King, Shaka kaSenzangakhona, initiated the formation.
The museum offers a re-interpretation of the 1838 battle and Zulu culture in general. The rich symbolism of the Zulu language is captured through items on display. In the Museum grounds are a Zulu war horn formation display, isisivivane (cairn) and a reed garden.
The museum is surrounded by a historical landscape directly relating to the 1838 battle.
The Ncome-Blood River Heritage Site is located 43 km from Dundee, 24 from Nquthu and 72 km from Vryheid. The site is sign posted with Blood River, Ncome or Blood River/eNcome signs.