During the Anglo-Boer War: the Boers besieged the British army in Ladysmith for 118 days, an event that dominated world headlines: the combatants engaged at the Thukela Heights in the biggest battle fought by Britain in Africa until World War II; the Boers confounded British strategists by discarding conventional warfare and opting for guerrilla tactics, using relatively small, highly mobile mounted commando units.
The Battle of Spioenkop also known as the Battle of Spionkop was fought on the 23rd and 24th of January 1900, the Battle of Spioenkop (Spionkop) was the scene of the most futile and certainly the bloodiest of the four battles fought to relieve the besieged town of Ladysmith from the surrounding Boer forces. The dreadful day of bloodshed cost the British some 1,200 casualties, of whom over 300 were killed. In total Boer casualties amounted to some 300 men, 62 percent of whom were from the Carolina Commando.
The tapestry of the conflict is rich with the names of men who went to war in South Africa – Winston Churchill, Mohandas Gandhi, Jan Smuts, Robert Baden-Powell, Louis Botha, Deneys Reitz, Redvers Buller, Lord Kitchener, Lord Roberts, Piet Joubert and Christiaan de Wet; while battle honours reflect bloody conflicts and famous engagements: Talana, Elandslaagte, Seige of Ladysmith, the Armoured Train Incident, Colenso, Thukela Heights, Spioenkop and Vaalkrans.
The battle site is open daily. There is a self-guided trail amongst the trenches, graves and monuments.
The Spioenkop Battle Site is found at the end of a clearly signposted short gravel road from the R616 to Bergville. The R616 is easily accessible from the N3 at the Bergville/ Ladysmith offramps. It is important to note that Spioenkop also offers a panoramic view of the entire Northern and Central Drakensberg. The views of this world heritage site at sunset from this site are ‘breathtaking’.