South Africa : Ancient Architectural Heritage Under Threat

This flat carved stone lies close to a dust road in Mpumalanga. It is beautifully engraved with concentric circle motifs and is clearly as old as Moses – if not older.

Yet, for all its beauty and cultural value, it will probably be broken up, crushed and used for infill on the new housing projects that are popping up around the area. This stone relic has a long and noble history but its track record over the last fifty years is anything but noble and its future is bleak indeed.

During the colonial years an academic took a look at this stone and decided that it was nothing more than a map of a settlement made by the recent Central African arrivals between the years of 1000 and 1500. This made no sense whatsoever but it suited the apartheid ideology and it was widely publicised and accepted by all and sundry.

Why the Bantu people, who inhabited lightweight dwellings made from grass thatch and moved settlements frequently, would spend thousands of hours carving perfect circles in very hard rock is not explained by this theory.

Yes, it would take thousands of people spending thousands of hours carving away to explain the mind boggling number of concentric circle engravings in the region. This rock is only one of thousands…

There is another hole in this theory: the local inhabitants, who have a direct lineage to the inhabitants of the region over the last centuries, have no ancestral knowledge or use for these stones and formations. In our many interviews with local inhabitants we were told time and time again that these were things of the people who lived there a very long time before them.

These engravings have been here for thousands of years – not hundreds. Possibly even tens of thousands! In addition it is clear that these works were executed over a very long period and are not all of one “period”.

Some years ago I was asked to help author Rob Milne map out the position of a particular grouping of shaped and engraved stones near the farm of Boomplaas in the Lydenburg area. To do this we had to visit each and every rock and stone that Rob had catalogued over some twenty years of exploration. We marked its GPS position, photographed the subject and usually shot some video footage as well.

This exercise went on for some years.

When the data was plotted on a site plan it became apparent that there was order and reason to the position of the rock assemblies and the shaped stones within the formations themselves. There are careful alignments, circles, gateways and passages. There are many architectural elements and fundamentals which are apparent to architects and those who understand architecture. And they are mostly processional, ceremonial and ritualistic.

Want to know more?

Why we believe there is a relationship with Australia. Click Here!

To find out where to go to see Lydenburg Stones click here.

To see a number of photographs of some Lydenburg Stones click here.

To see the original AA 5 Minute Video (2004) of the Lydenburg Stones click here.

To see the most recent AA 5 Minute Video of the Lydenburg Stones click here.

Find out more about other important discoveries in Mpumalanga. Click here.


Pedro Buccellato, architects, Johannesburg