Back to top

Herbert Charles Woodhouse (1919 - )

The Order of Ikhamanga in

Bronze
Herbert Charles Woodhouse (1919 - ) Awarded for:
Outstanding achievement in and contributing to the field of rock art.

Profile of Herbert Charles Woodhouse

Herbert Charles Woodhouse was born in the little suburb of Heat on Moor, England in 1919. He spent his whole childhood in England and it is there where his interest in the outdoors developed.

Woodhouse joined the Royal Air Force during the Second World War and was later sent to South Africa where he completed his war service in Cape Town. After the war, he returned to his previous civilian employment at Barclays Bank, but this time, at its South African branch in Johannesburg. He has since remained in South Africa.

His work with rock art started accidentally when he came across a book that dealt with the subject of so-called primitive and prehistoric art. He then started visiting rock art sites as a hobby.

He left Barclays Bank and joined the Murray and Roberts Construction Company, where he was responsible for the training and development of 70 000 employees. His work at the construction company required him to travel to Zimbabwe and Zambia. Devoted to his hobby, he took the liberty of visiting the many rock art sites while there. He also visited sites in Namibia. A great deal of his research was conducted in the Eastern Free State, where rock art is found on farms.

Woodhouse has endeavoured to ensure that farm owners help preserve the art, protect it from vandalism and more importantly, make it accessible to the ordinary person through general and educational tours.

He has made an immense contribution to the body of knowledge that is available on rock art. He has submitted in excess of 100 articles to a vast number of academic journals in Southern Africa and abroad. He has had eight books published, namely:

• Art on the Rocks of Southern Africa, co-authored with DN
Lee (1970)
• Archaeology in Southern Africa (1971)
• Rock Art (1978)
• Rotskuns (Rock Art translated into Afrikaans) (1978)
• The Bushman Art of Southern Africa (1979)
• When Animals were People (1984)
• The Rain and its Creatures (1992)
• The Rock Art of the Golden Gate and Clarens district
(1995).

The University of Pretoria houses the Woodhouse Collection at their Special Collections Unit of the Academic Information Services. His photographic slides are permanently on exhibition in the Dordrecht Museum in the Eastern Cape as well as in the Ficksburg Library in the Free State. He has lectured at a number of educational institutions in various parts of the world.

Woodhouse was the treasurer and later president of the Institute for the Study of Man, established by world-acclaimed scientist and scholar, Professor Phillip Tobias. He is a former chairperson of the Witwatersrand Centre of the South African Archaeological Society and former president of the Human Sciences Section (F) of the South African Association for the Advancement of Sciences. Outside of the country, he is associated with museums in Zimbabwe and Zambia. He is an honorary member of the Australian Rock Art Association.

Herbert Charles Woodhouse has been an enterprising rock art researcher. He has been instrumental in promoting the rich archaeological and cultural heritage of the southern African region. He has unselfishly shared his exceptional work with many who would probably not have been able to access these historic treasures. This incredible heritage of the indigenous San and Khoi people of southern Africa has a rightful place in the national Coat of Arms, and more recently, in the official logo of the 2010 Fifa Soccer World Cup.

Woodhouse is married to Shirley-Grace Woodhouse, who is also a rock art enthusiast. They have three children, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Mr Woodhouse is now retired.