A toposcope or topograph is a monument usually erected on hills, mountains,
or at high altitudes, and indicates the distance and direction to various
landmarks and features which lie within view of it and can be seen from it with
the naked eye. They can usually be found in public parks, and in various other
locations of historical note, for example battlefields. Toposcopes often carry
an inscription, and are dedicated to particular people or events. Smaller
toposcopes usually consist of a stone plinth with a circular brass plaque
mounted on it. The plaque usually displays radiating lines which indicate the
direction to various landmarks, along with the distance, and often a small
pictorial representation of the landmark.
Toposcopes of the larger variety may feature a circular paved area , with a series of plaques placed around the perimeter with each one indicating a particular feature of the landscape. One such large toposcope is the Toposcope at Bathurst, near Grahamstown in the Eastern cape Province of South Africa. The small and historic village of Bathurst has strong connections to the 1820 Settlers, as it was originally established as the colony's first administrative centre.
The Bathurst Toposcope marks the spot where the 1820 British Settlers locations were surveyed. The details of the settlements, and the names of the ships and their ports of departure are recorded on 57 plaques - originally brass. However they were stolen, and later replaced with plaques made of fibreglass. The inscription on the plinth reads " Close to this site in 1820 Colonel Jacob Cuyler made his camp while supervising the placing of the settlers on their locations. While camped here at the same time Sir Rufane Donkin chose the site for the administrative centre to be named Bathurst. The beacon was erected by Captain W. Bailey as an observing station during his survey of the Eastern Districts, 1855 - 1859." The stones used in the construction of the wall were taken from ruins of original Settler homes. On a clear day, visitors to the area are provided with magnificent views of the Gamtoos Valley floodplain from The Great Fish River to Kwaaihoek.
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