Our Town’s History
The Prince Albert district has a rich heritage of Later Stone Age (LSA) sites, stone tools and rock paintings. Many of which date back 25 000 years. A well-documented archaeological ‘dig’ at Boomplaas Cave on the Swartberg Pass provides evidence of Middle Stone Age (MSA) people. Some of the tools from the LSA were still being made and used by San (aka Bushmen) and Khoikhoi at the time of European contact. “And for the first time,” says local paleontologist Dr Judy Maguire, “there are eye-witness accounts of what some of the stone tools were used for, both practically and symbolically.”
The Khoikhoi had practiced pastoralism (a form of animal husbandry with a mobile aspect) being ever in search of fresh grazing and water for their herds of sheep and goats. And the name Karoo is derived from a Khoikhoi word Karusa meaning ‘dry arid place.’
European immigrants colonized the area after 1652 and Prince Albert has its origins in a loan farm dating back to 1762. Named Kweekvallei “valley of cultivation and plenty” the farm was leased for a year by Zacharias de Beer. In 1842 the Synod of the Dutch Reformed church approved the purchase of a part of the farm for building a church. And in 1845, the tiny village was proclaimed Prince Albert in honour of Queen Victoria’s consort.
Today Prince Albert is the centre of its own municipality and numbers over 13 000. It celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2012 and in that same year was voted the Western Cape winner in the prestigious kykNET Kwêla & Rapport ‘Town of the Year’ competition.
The municipal district includes surrounding farms together with the towns of Klaarstroom, Prince Albert Road and Leeu-Gamka. Today’s farmers have exchanged the nomadic existence of the past in favour of fencing in their livestock and growing crops. And in so doing wage a constant war against animal predators, drought and searing heat.
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