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DateOriginal Topic
8th August 2003Where is the Nek?
By Andrew Holliday
Does anyone know where the Nek is on the I sandhlwana mountain because people saay things about it in books, acounts and documentaries etc. But I don't know where it actually is on the Isandhlwana battlefield.
8th August 2003Peter Ewart
The neck (Afrikaaner "nek" I suppose?) or saddle, is the area of land immediately due south of the Isandlwana outcrop itself, wedged between Isandlwana and the "stony (afterwards Black's) koppie" to its south.

I believe both saddle and neck are topographical terms & so these would certainly have been familiar to the military. The nek was already traversed from west to east by an established trader's track running between the two hills and this was used and improved upon by the column before their little sojourn at Isandlwana.

The surface is hard, rocky shale. From the north it slopes down from Isandlwana, levels out and then slopes upwards again to Black's Koppie. From the nek the ground also slopes gently downwards to both west and east, creating quite a rise which has to be negotiated in the last few hundred yards from the direction of R/Drift, and also up which the Zulu army had to charge from the east (but which I suspect is more gradual?)

The nek was used as a waggon park on 20th/21st/22nd. When the rout began, it was passed over by the fugitives who left the camp in a SW direction, and from the brow of which they discovered their westward route to RD was cut off. Some of the later defensive fighting - the last stands - took place here and even further west.

From both the distant west & east it has a skyline because it - although lower than the two hills - is quite high ground itself and it describes a gentle and rather enchanting curve between the two hills, especially from the east at sunset or dusk, the more so the farther from the mountain it is observed.

It is a large, open piece of ground but I wouldn't like to estimate how far from the foot of Isandlwana underneath the shoulder it is to the aprroximate foot of Black's Koppie - a few hundred yards? Someone will know.

If you've read about the battle you will probably have seen a map and hopefully this will help you identify the area.