In 2022, Waterloo Uncovered ran the largest number of programmes in the Charity’s history, supporting over 100 VSMP (Veterans and Serving Military Personnel), and for the first time, military spouses.

The programmes delivered this year – consisting of Creative Arts, Finds, Battlefields Uncovered, Virtual, Excavation, Follow On, and the brand-new Hidden Histories: Women of Waterloo Programme - have given us the pleasure of working with an amazing group of beneficiaries, all of whom have gained something unique from being with us over the past year. We are incredibly proud of what we have achieved in 2022, and are excited to support a new, diverse group of beneficiaries in 2023 as we continue our work in Waterloo and beyond.

 - Katie Buckley, Chief Operations Officer

The 2022 Excavation team

Excavation Programme

Like all our programmes, beneficiaries on the Excavation Programme are supported year round, starting with application, interview and selection, and progressing to virtual Google Hangouts and in-person museum trips to meet fellow veterans and the Waterloo Uncovered team. The Excavation Programme centres around two weeks of on-site excavation in Waterloo, Belgium each July, alongside a variety of educational and social extra- curricular activities, and culminates in regular post-excavation Hangouts, a cross-programme reunion and continued access to additional vocational and educational opportunities and wellbeing support.

One of the most significant discoveries of the 2022 Excavation Programme was the discovery of a complete human skeleton, only the second ever discovered in an archaeological context.

Analysis by specialists has already revealed that the skeleton is of a man who was between 20 and 29 years old when he died, and was roughly 5 ft 9 inches tall. In the coming months, researchers hope to conduct isotope analysis, which may be able to determine where this individual grew up and what the main elements of his diet were.

Further up in the same trench, the team discovered an amputated human arm, along with the remains of three articulated horses.


Explore more of our discoveries in our daily 2022 Excavation Dig Diaries and videos:

Impact & Benefits
Participants on the excavation programme gain a variety of new archaeological and post-excavation skills, as well as in depth knowledge of military history and the archaeological process. By working outdoors with other like-minded veterans, wellbeing specialists and archaeologists, veterans are able to process their experiences in a comfortable and familiar setting while learning skills that will open up new opportunities for them as they transition to civilian life.
VSMP Supported

Average increase in Wellbeing Score
Finds Highlights
A rusty metal object resembling the hilt of a sword, but small and flat
Copper alloy scabbard end with interior leather lining found at Plancenoit - possibly from a cavalry scabbard.
A rusty metal spoon, split into two halves, with part of the bowl missing. The handle shows an ornate floral design.

Late 18th - early 19th century pewter spoon with ornate floral handle and a possible phoenix design.

A small metal button beside a scale which shows the symbol of the grenadiers inside a decorative circle
French Grenadier regimental demi- domed button with missing shanks, found at Mont-Saint-Jean.
“We get history and archaeology, but there’s a huge wellbeing and support environment as well. It has boosted my self-confidence. I feel accepted, I don’t feel disabled, I feel enabled.”

Lisa, Excavation Programme participant

A digital artwork showing two British Napoleonic soldiers in the uniform of the 57th regiment inside a building. One lies on the floor, likely dead, while another runs towards him.

Creative Arts Programme

This programme presented an opportunity to re-engage with the military community and to explore the historical context of the Battle of Waterloo through a creative lens. Beneficiaries took part in stimulating, mindful and creative workshops that included art, writing and poetry, while working on a personal ‘final piece’ in a medium of their choosing.

Participants were encouraged to achieve a different, positive perspective on their personal experiences, whilst developing a new interest. The group also weaved their own interests into their art, including clay pipes, digital media and woodworking.

Audio-visual artwork focussing on the 32nd Cornwall Regiment by Arts Programme participant George Vosper
Impact & Benefits
Through the programme, participants were able to try a variety of creative activities and learn new skills that many believed they would not be able to achieve prior to embarking on the programme. The resulting artworks and pieces of poetry demonstrate a variety of unique perspectives, and a significant improvement in both confidence and ability, gained over the course of the programme.
VSMP Supported

Average increase in Wellbeing Score

Digital artwork showing a moment frozen in time during the Battle of Waterloo, by Arts Programme Participant Richard Cave
As well as creating artworks, veteran participants have written a series of evocative poems as part of the Arts Programme, largely themed around conflict, Waterloo, and their own military experience.

“The programme has been a real treat for me. I have written poetry, drawn a landscape and more - I never thought I could do that. It gave me a sense of working in a team with like-minded individuals, like in the military.”
George, Arts Programme participant
A selection of musket balls ready to be processed after being excavated

Finds Programme

The Finds Programme supports a group of UK veterans as they assemble a finds handling collection, based on areas and artefacts they have chosen to research. The programme’s beneficiaries will then have the opportunity to use their collection as an outreach tool to educate other veterans and members of the public.

Impact & Benefits
This programme not only cultivates and fosters a lasting connection to heritage, but it also gives participants the chance to discuss a number of sensitive topics, such as death, loss, injury and trauma in a safe and comfortable environment. 
VSMP Supported

Average increase in Wellbeing Score
"Same Kit, Different Day"

Waterloo Uncovered’s excavations have uncovered many elements of the kit Napoleonic soldiers were equipped with over the years. As they explored our finds archive, many participants of the Finds Programme were struck by how similar the kit they were handling was to the kit they had used in their own military careers, 200 years later! 

As one participant put it: “the act of soldiering is the same.” Realising that they are not alone in their experiences of the traumas of war can be cathartic for many veterans. 

A round metal token with a decorative design including the face of cupid and a heart pierced by an arrow

This object looks incomplete. It may have been attached to a backing to make it into a button. It features the face of Cupid with wings, above a heart pierced by an arrow. The heart shape as we know it is thought to have been used from the 1200s onwards, so this does not help date the object. Could it be a love token?

A silver object shaped vaguely like a bullet or the end of a syringe

This may be the metal tip from an aiguillette, the cord on the shoulder of a uniform. The object has knurled rings, maybe to tighten it up. Other interpretations are part of a compass or a drawing related object. The construction could have allowed a nib to be removed and replaced. This object is possibly from a period later than Waterloo.

An ornamental hook with a design featuring a dragon and St George

The head of the figure of Saint George is missing from this object. It appears to have been distorted out of shape. It seems to have been a hook, but we can not identify its origin - is this a domestic object caught up in the destruction of Hougoumont farm, or is it not associated with the Battle at all?  

Explore the full Finds Collection:

"The Finds Programme has given me a new hobby, which is great for me! Waterloo Uncovered has been fun for me in a year that I really struggled.”

Steve, Finds Programme participant

An illustration of two women in 19th century dress. One is laden with bags and baskets strapped to her body, while the other cradles a baby. They are both bare foot and are clambering up a snowy mountain side.

Hidden Histories: Women of Waterloo

Hidden Histories: Women of Waterloo was an innovative virtual heritage and arts programme taught by experts in history, educational wargaming and creative writing. 

It was the first Waterloo Uncovered programme for and about military spouses. Extending our work to spouses and partners allowed us to support those who would normally be in a supporting role themselves through educational lectures, creative tasks and group research activities. 

Through archival and genealogical research and group discussions, the team were able to reconstruct the forgotten stories of several remarkable women whose roles and hardships have been overlooked in traditional accounts of the Battle. 

A watercolour painting of a pregnant women holding a basket walking beside a donkey which carries another woman and a toddler. Both are dressed in Napoleonic era clothing and are travelling through the mountains
Artwork by Abigail Devenny

Catherine Ross

Born: 1785, Limerick, Ireland, 

Died: 1888, Walsall, England

A silhouette of a woman in period dress

Catherine Ross married a soldier in the ranks, against her families wishes. She then followed him to India, China, and Malta to name but a few. In June 1815 they were quartered in Brussels. Her husband was reported missing after the Battle of Waterloo, and on the third day she marched 12 miles to the battlefield to look for him. By the time she arrived he had already been carried to the hospital and had his wounds dressed. He had sustained a cut to the face from the sabre of a French Officer and a bullet lodged in his ankle. 

Catherine was given the title ‘The Waterloo Woman’ on account of being at the Battle of Waterloo and accompanying her husband and the army all through the Peninsular War. After his recovery they were stationed in Manchester and then London, followed by Walsall. He was held a grand review with the Duke of Wellington and Catherine also attended. It was said she could recite a poem on Waterloo, word for word. Because of her commitment to the Army and her husband, the Guardians said she was owed more than a paupers funeral. The Observer opened a small fund to provide for her burial, in which it received £3 and 14s . Her coffin was covered with the Union Jack until the funeral.

Catherine Ross

Born: 1785, Limerick, Ireland, 

Died: 1888, Walsall, England

A silhouette of a woman in period dress

Explore more untold stories of the Women of Waterloo: 

Creative Responses

Participants were encouraged to explore their own experience as military spouses, as well as that of their Napoleonic counterparts, through activities such as poetry, creative writing and drawing.

In response, participants produced a brilliant array of creative work that bought the resilience of military spouses both past and present vividly to live. 

Explore our participants' creative work:

A watercolour painting of a woman in 19th century dress and no shoes cradling a baby. She sits on a log in front of Hougoumont farmhouse, with a sack behind her. There appears to be bloodstains on the ground.

Explore our participants' creative work:

"During my journey with Waterloo Uncovered I realise women of the past 200 years ago faced similar issues. Some things have changed, but some things were the same through my life journey. These women faced bloody scenes, without support, and had to strive daily. I salute them. I’m becoming me again, knowing I’m not alone."

Michelle, Hidden Histories Programme participant
A woman in 19th century dress stands in front of a field of tents. She is in front of a fire and is stirring a pot on the ground with a long stick, beside several other bowls and a bucket.

Virtual Programme

Now in its third year, the Virtual Programme has supported those who are harder to reach and naturally more isolated due to its online nature. Educational content focussed on the Battle of Waterloo, mindfulness, basic archaeological techniques, and virtual museum trips, and was paired with laid back, social group discussions to help tackle loneliness and increase wellbeing.
Impact & Benefits
Before each programme, participants also take part in a goal setting exercise, to determine how the programme can be best adapted to help them achieve their social, educational and wellbeing goals. By providing veterans with a sense of routine during the pandemic, as well as a group of like-minded veterans to socialise with and access to new opportunities through education, participants were able to improve their confidence, archaeological skill and reduce loneliness.
VSMP Supported

Average increase in Wellbeing Score
“As a person who recently become sight impaired this was a godsend. For me it was about getting my confidence back. After losing my sight, I became isolated - during the course, I made new friends who I keep in touch with.”

Chris, Virtual Programme participant

Battlefields Uncovered participants on a tour of the Waterloo battlefield

Battlefields Uncovered

Our Battlefields Uncovered Programme, funded by the Armed Forces Covenant Trust's Tackling Loneliness Programme is a collaboration between Wellbeing and Support specialists, archaeologists, museum curators & the University of Utrecht. It provides a clear educational and goal setting structure to ensure participants achieve meaningful outcomes, with an important focus on improving their wellbeing.

This programme offered participants the chance to gain academic credits from an accredited university course held online. Participants who graduate from the course can continue their studies in phase 2 of Battlefields Uncovered, which includes the opportunity to volunteer in a museum setting or write an in-depth essay on a subject of their choosing.

Impact & Benefits

Battlefields Uncovered is designed to tackle loneliness in groups that were at particular risk during the pandemic. By holding regular, friendly seminars and group discussions with an incredibly diverse group of veterans, students and military family members from all over the world, the programme was able to successfully combat the isolation that can be felt over winter.

Participants also graduated with academic credits from the University of Utrecht, which opens up a world of opportunity for those who wish to pursue further education, job and volunteering opportunities, and more.

VSMP Supported

Average increase in Wellbeing Score
“The Battlefields course is a great way to learn, connect and open your horizons with a group of amazing people and a team who really seem to care running it. I found that it was a great way to open up and help with my anxiety.”
Lauren, Battlefields Uncovered participant
A metal detectorist walking across the Waterloo battlefield

Follow On Programme

The Follow On Programme offers beneficiaries who have participated in any of our programmes the opportunity for continued contact with Waterloo Uncovered through one of our experienced coaches and Wellbeing Support Team.

This gives us the ability to better monitor beneficiaries’ wellbeing, offer information and guidance, and ensure nobody misses out on further opportunities such as museum visits, online lectures or other events.

"I am in a better place since starting the sessions with my coach and can’t thank him enough, for all his professionalism and knowledge with a calming nature. His input to my health and wellbeing is greatly appreciated and welcomed."

Follow On Programme participant
Sponsors, Supporters and Partners

Annington Homes
The Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust
COBSEO The Confederation of Service Charities
National Lottery Heritage Fund
University of Glasgow
Utrecht University
Summer School Utrecht
Registered with Fundraising Regulator
Ghent University logo
AWaP logo
Museum of London Archaeology
The British Museum

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