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The Mountain is their Monument: An archaeological Approach to the Landscapes of the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879

  • Pollard T
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The Anglo-Zulu War occupies a special position in British military history; not least because a single day, 22nd January 1879, saw one of the worst defeats ever inflicted on an imperial army by an indigenous force, and one of the most celebrated examples of a small force overcoming overwhelming odds. But the battles of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift were only two events in a war which although lasting only six months saw a number of notable engagements within contrasting types of terrain, including the battles of Nyezane, Hlobane, Khambula, Ntombe and Gingindlovu, culminating with the final defeat of the Zulu army by a British square at Ulundi on the Hahlabathini Plain in the shadow of the Zulu king’s homestead. There was also a siege, with Zulu forces keeping more than 1700 British troops penned inside their hastily constructed fort at Eshowe for two and a half months, until relieved by a re-invasion force. This paper provides an introduction to the Anglo-Zulu War Archaeology Project, a joint enterprise between the Department of Archaeology at Glasgow University and Heritage KwaZuluNatal. Fieldwork began with the survey of the British fort a t Eshowe in September 1999. The project will adopt a wide landscape based approach in order to place sites of archaeological interest (battlefields, forts, camps, Zulu homesteads etc.) within their wider context. The influence of terrain on the progress of the war is discussed, as is the differing perceptions of landscape held by both the Zulu and the British, the origins of the latter being traceable back to early traveller’s writings such as Gardiner’s Journey to the Zoolu Country of 1836.




Pollard, T. (2002). The Mountain is their Monument: An archaeological Approach to the Landscapes of the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879 (pp. 117–135).

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