From the Killing Ground: Digital Approaches to Conflict Archaeology – a Case Study from Waterloo

Dr Stuart Eve and Professor Tony Pollard

Digital War, June 2020

Since 2015, Waterloo Uncovered has been conducting archaeological fieldwork on the famous 1815 battlefield in Belgium. This paper, by the project’s Archaeological Directors, focuses on two aspects of this work that demonstrate how digital technologies have been used both to interpret the archaeology and to facilitate reconstruction. At Hougoumont, the farm which served as a strong point on Wellington’s right, metal detector survey has provided a visceral insight into the fighting, which has added much to what is already known from historical accounts.

This interpretation has in part been facilitated through the use of a digital recording system known as ARK, which plots finds on a map of the site and allows artefacts to be viewed as groups and also as individual objects, which can be subject to detailed scrutiny. The archaeological results of the project have also been useful in informing a virtual reality reconstruction of Hougoumont, which although in an early stage of development will permit visitors to step back in time and experience the farm as it appeared in 1815.