Southern Rhodesia: 1936 Monuments and Relics Act

Southern Rhodesia

1936 Monuments and Relics Act

On 8th May 1936, the Southern Rhodesia Government repealed the Ancient Monuments Protection Ordinance of 1902, Bushmen Relics Ordinance of 1911, and Victoria Falls Reservation Preservation Act of 1928 and replaced them with the 1936 Monuments and Relics Act. The new Act brought in the new concept of ranking sites by affording the status of National Monuments.

The Act brought into being the Commission for the Preservation of Historical Monuments and Relics, also known as the Monuments Commission. It was believed that more was required than just a protective Act and that a regular form of inspection was required.

Apart from undertaking inspection and excavation, the commission was tasked with documenting and keeping a register of all ancient monuments and relics in Southern Rhodesia. From this National Register, the commission could make recommendations to the Minister of Native Affairs for proclamation as national monuments. By 1954, the Commission had appointed 79 sites as National Monuments.

The 1936 Act was repealed in 1972 by the National Museums and Monuments Act which amalgamated the Monuments Commission with various city museums.



  • Heritage, Museums and Galleries: An Introductory Reader – Gerard Corsane
  • The Monuments of Southern Rhodesia – Edited by Rowland J. Fothergill