Day 4 – Rain and Readings

Today’s dig started off rainy and overcast. This, however, did not dampen morale, and everyone was excited to get digging. Tents were set up over the trenches in the courtyard and the garden, which let us continue the excavations in these places. Luckily, it did not rain the entire day and we were able to dig in all the trenches. On top of the usual business, we held the Reading to Remember event.

Discoveries were plentiful, with finds in all the trenches. Phil’s team, digging the trench in the courtyard near the north gate, has been looking for the stable block that was positioned here. The foundations of the buttresses that supported the building have been excavated and finds in that area include slate roof tiles and roof nails, which suggests that the roof of the building was made with slates.

In the other trench in the courtyard, Emily’s trench, we are looking for the building foundations that were mentioned in yesterday’s dig diary. Today, we have found some pottery and glass shards, as well as getting to the post battle ground level. The team has to do a bit more digging. We are hoping to get to the walls very soon!

The trench in the garden near the killing zone is ready to be closed off. The objects found here correspond to the finds on the other side of the wall. Heavy fighting occurred in this area, with the soldiers inside the wall trying to prevent the French from climbing over the wall. The musket balls that have been found are British, which corresponds with the battle accounts.

The killing zone saw some action today as well. After the rain ended, the digging was picked up again, and led to more finds. Coins, buttons, musket balls etc. were discovered. In the coming days, another layer of ground will be excavated to see if there are more objects.

A new trench has been opened up by Sam in the potato field behind the carpark. The area shows a geophysical anomaly, which can be a number of things. It might even be a grave. Given that the mass grave was supposed to be under the carpark, and wasn’t, this location is not far off. Potentially the painters brought the farm a bit closer in, as it would make the scene more recognisable, which means that the graves could be a bit further into the woods. We will be digging a trench over it, so that in the next couple of days we can resolve the question of what is there.

The other big event today was Reading to Remember.  The Waterloo Uncovered team, comprised of archaeologists soldiers and veterans, took turns reading accounts of the battle for about 10 hours, roughly the duration of the battle, in the chapel at Hougoumont farm, where the wounded took refuge in 1815. They read histories, and many personal and historical accounts of the Battle of Waterloo, piecing together the stories of those who fought it over 200 years ago, and for tens of thousands, lost their lives.

Most of the readers had never performed for the public before and the readings were, for many, a challenge. The readings will soon be uploaded to this website, on our Reading to Remember page, and you can still sponsor readers for their hard work on our Just Giving page: