Something Over Tea

As one drives from Grahamstown towards Fort Beaufort on the R67, one passes over the Ecca Pass, which takes its name from the Ecca River, a tributary of the Great Fish River. The pass has considerable geological, historical and botanical value, with several interesting things of note. One is that the road over the pass is one of several military roads originally built by Andrew Geddes Bain in the 1800s. This was known as the Queen’s Road.

Another is that Bain became so interested in the rocks uncovered during the construction of the road that he worked out the stratigraphy of what we now know as the Karoo System and named the rock type at the foot of the pass the ‘Ecca Group’. This comprises approximately 250-million-year-old sedimentary blue shales and mudstones. Most exciting is that he found several fossil reptiles.  Yet another interesting aspect of this area is that…

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