Whereas we felt so welcomed by the sun two days ago, today was a different story: the skies are grey and the temperature has dropped significantly. Anyone who has forgotten to bring their amazing Waterloo Uncovered-hoodie regrets their grave mistake. Sadly, no rain as of yet.
Though the ground did not have a chance to soften with rain, it did provide us with some of the first great finds of this year. In the next paragraph, two of these finds recovered by Malcolm Iliffe will be highlighted. We are starting to find more ammunition in all kinds of states, antique coins, and even a small crucifix.
Check out the video of our first day here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4BSflTJ4wQ
For now, trenches have been dug in the new car park near the Southern Gate and inside the Northern Gate. The Killing Zone has been opened up again as well. No attacks from the cows thus far. Inside the garden, some new trenches might reveal clues about the original garden walls (the current wall is a later reconstruction).
Two remarkable finds of today were a stud from a piece of French kit, and a French coin from 1750. They were found by Malcolm Iliffe, a veteran of the Coldstream Guards. He served in Northern Ireland and Cyprus. Interestingly, the Coldstream Guards were also present here during the Battle of Waterloo! He raised over £1000 in sponsorship to support Waterloo Uncovered.
“Coming here to dig at the place where my battalion was in battle is like winning the lottery. I didn’t know what to expect”, Malcolm tells us. “There was a lot to take in about doing archaeology before we could put a spade in the ground -and that can be hard if your memory is affected by PTSD. It was hot work, the ground was hard and I got covered in ants!” But all of his efforts were rewarded when he found his artefacts: “I was shaking with excitement. When you see stuff like that coming out of the ground, the feeling’s amazing!”
In the Car Park
Yesterday, the top soil was scraped carefully off the parking lot. Who knew that such a big digger could be so precise? Re-scanning the soil and the spoil heap on the side of the trenches recovered a number of musket balls, as well as other finds. Though archaeology and metal detecting often don’t mix, when done professionally, metal detecting can be extremely helpful. Don’t forget: amateur metal detection is illegal in Wallonia!
Yesterday, the metal detectors gave off some weaker signs. That’s reason enough for bringing the digger back and removing another 4 to 8 centimeters (1.6 to 3.1 inches).
Overall, the marker flags have gone up and the shovels are digging down – not at all a bad start to another excavation! In the following two weeks, we will be looking to find the remnants of Château Hougoumont’s original building layout, busting myths, and who knows what else?