Valley of the Stiffs
Take the N10 to Cradock, ask for directions to the main cemetery and you’ll soon find yourself fascinated by what one of our local chaps calls “The Valley of the Stiffs”.
Should the dead souls of the Cradock Cemetery rise from their graves on a moonlit night and sit down together at a long table by the side of the Great Fish River, it would indeed be a famous feast.
Hosting the ghostly dinner would be polar explorer Dr Reginald Koettlitz and his wife, Marie Louise. He died on January 10, 1916, and Mrs Koettlitz expired a scant two hours after him.
To his right would be General Pieter Hendrik Kritzinger, a major Boer warrior who led his British pursuers a devil’s dance through the district.
To his left would be Harry Edwin Wood, who died in 1946 and was the official Astronomer and Timekeeper and second director of the Union Observatory in Johannesburg. He discovered and named 12 comets and 3 minor planets, and had a comet named in his honour by a colleague, “1660 Wood”.
For the rest of the company, more than 70 British soldiers, a gaggle of nuns, four Cape Rebels (graves washed away in the 1974 floods) and here’s one Harry Potter, far from home, buried on Karoo soil.
Anglo-boer War sadness outside Springfontein.