Dig Diary 5: Finding the Foundation and Getting Creative

It’s Friday Finds Day! Check our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter posts to see the highlights of this week. We’ve had success at the Garden Wall excavations – read the full story below! Joining us on site are two artists and an author.  They are walking around, soaking up information from the dig, and our team has been joining them. Last but not least: don’t forget to come to our first OPEN DAY tomorrow. It’s going to be very exciting!

Busy photographing the remains of the barn at the Northern Gate

Under the Garden Wall

Enclosing what was once a luxurious and green garden stands a wall that has witnessed less peaceful events. This week, a trench was dug to find the wall’s original foundations. And with success!

The right wall facing the Killing Zone saw the intensity of the battle surging around it throughout the day. In the past two centuries, it has been knocked down and rebuilt at least twice. In spite of this, its original foundations remain. Excavations will resume soon on the other side of the wall, after which we hope to find out the width of the original wall.

Archaeologist Alistair Douglas teaching his team about the Garden Wall

Veteran Paula (also known as “Tiggs”) at the Garden Wall

The Garden Wall, where you can see the original foundations

Thus far, we have removed the top soil and dug down 76 centimeters. This uncovered 26 centimeters of the original wall, resting on top of 50 centimeters of foundations. In the image, you can see the difference between the foundations and the original wall: the foundation is made of smaller stones than the restIn the soil, we have found pieces of various types and colours of bricks. These are likely the remnants from when the wall was knocked down. This trench has probably been “robbed out”: much of the original brick rubble may have been taken after the battle by local people in need of building materials.

Artist Teresa Beth Hough with one of her artworks

Creative Writing and Drawing on Location 

RECONSTRUCTION DRAWINGS Local artist Teresa Beth Hough plans to draw and paint and encourage others to do so: “I want to help foster any creativity that would add to the work of the charity”. Drawing on her knowledge of history and architecture, Teresa has imaginatively recreated several scenes set at Château d’Hougoumont. Examples include the burned down barn (featured in yesterday’s Dig Diary). It is possible these might be compiled into a colouring book in the future. Her images are based on what we know from our archaeological work.

A close-up of one of Teresa’s artworks

VETERANS WRITE ON SITE Under the professional guidance of author Katie J. Whittaker, visiting veterans Andrew Sharples and Graham Limb get inspired to put pen to paper -or to hit their keyboards -in the middle of ongoing excavations. They are doing workshops in the morning, and then sustained writing sessions in the afternoons. Several finds are serving as possible story material. For Andrew, the project brings “new skills and understanding – I haven’t really done any writing before”. Graham adds that “it is useful being here at the same time as the dig, we are feeling a connection to the past”.


SLOWING DOWN THROUGH GUIDED DRAWING Beth Collar draws, sculpts and does performance art. As her personal project, she will be sculpting the negative (empty) spaces of the trenches. Together with our veterans, students and staff, she tours around the Château to make accurate reconstruction drawings of the farm. These will then be compiled and used for the benefit of Waterloo Uncovered.

Catching a ride with the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans

We feel pleased and honoured to receive a group of British veterans and serving personnel, brought to the site by a fleet of London Black Cab drivers. Waterloo Uncovered has teamed up with the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans for an expedition to bring a group from Waterloo to Waterloo to tour the battlefield and take part in our Archaeology Weekend. For some of the drivers and their passengers, it’s a chance to do some digging as well.  Check out our Instagram Story today to see them arrive!


Open Day Saturday: programme of events 


Open Day Sunday: the walk 

Open Day!

Tomorrow, we will be hosting an open day from 10 to 17 at Château d’Hougoumont. Throughout the day, we will be doing excavations in some of the trenches (come say hi!). For the visitors, there are many activities, such as handling actual finds, playing a Napoleonic table top war game with model soldiers and watching demonstrations of blank-firing muskets by fully-equipped and uniformed reenactors (at 12 and 15). For those who would love to learn more about the history of this place and the men who fought here, be sure to visit the pop-up museum or follow an archaeology and history tour (11.30 and 14.30).

If you cannot make it tomorrow, be sure to drop by on Sunday when we will be hosting a Guided Battlefield Walk. The tour guides will show us the battleground around Mont-Saint-Jean. The tour will be given both in French and English, and you can choose either a 2 hour or a 7 hour tour. There’s really no excuse for you to miss this one!

Reenactors’ preparations for tomorrow

Today has been an extremely creative and eventful day! We cannot wait to see you at the Open Day and for the Guided Battlefield Walk on Sunday. Stay tuned as our next Dig Diary will appear on Sunday, and will be summarising the main events of the weekend. Throughout the coming days, our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter will be continuously updated.

Some furry visitors on site today