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Lecture | From Killing Ground to Burial Ground: Archaeology and the Battle of Waterloo

2023wed20sep6:30 pmwed8:00 pmLecture | From Killing Ground to Burial Ground: Archaeology and the Battle of WaterlooWednesday 20th September | 6.30pm – 8.00pm | Friends £9 | Non Members £11Book Now

Event Details

Since 2015, Waterloo Uncovered has engaged military veterans in the archaeological investigation of the site of the Battle of Waterloo fought in what is now Belgium in 1815. During that time, techniques including geophysical survey, metal detector survey, excavation and historical research have been used to shed new light on the battlefield and the battle fought on it. In this presentation, Tony Pollard, Professor of Conflict History and Archaeology at the University of Glasgow and academic lead with Waterloo Uncovered, will present highlights of that work, which has continued in 2023.

Hougoumont, the farm and chateau on Wellington’s right flank, was defended by British and allied troops throughout the day of the battle. In the courtyard, where buildings were burned down during the fighting, excavation has revealed evidence for the defence of the north gate, which was briefly breached by French troops. Adjacent to the building complex, the walled garden was assaulted on several occasions by French infantry advancing through the wood from the south. The strip of open ground between the wood and the wall was later referred to as the Killing Ground, as by the end of the day it was littered with French dead. Metal detector survey has produced scatters of musket balls which provide a visceral insight into the nature of the action here.

Behind the centre of Wellington’s line is the farm of Mont St Jean which served as the main field hospital for his army. It was here, in 2019, that the first grave-pit ever discovered on the battlefield in modern times was encountered. Excavation has thus far exposed human and animal remains in what is at present a combination unique to any Napoleonic battlefield.* This part of the project brings home the harsh realities of the battle and in conjunction with the work at Hougoumont has added important information to what we already know from historical accounts.

*Note: Photographic images of skeletal human and animal remains will feature as part of this presentation

6.30pm drinks reception (drink included in ticket price), 7.00pm lecture commences

Stay for a post lecture supper in the Castle Bistro
2 courses £25
3 courses £30

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Time

(Wednesday) 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

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