Finds Collection 2022

The finds in this collection were chosen, assembled and researched by a group of veterans as part of Waterloo Uncovered’s Finds Programme. The collection will then be taken to events and workshops, to showcase their work and the value of archaeology for the wellbeing of other veterans and serving personnel. 

“Same Kit, Different Day”

An important part of the project was the use of lived experience to inform research and interpretations into the objects you see before you. The theme “same kit, different day” represents the link between the experiences of the veterans on the programme and their Napoleonic counterparts. Many of the objects were strikingly familiar to them, despite the over 200 year gap between their service and the Battle of Waterloo. 

How were these objects used? Are they used in the same way today? Could they have had multiple functions? 

A scoop shaped rusted metal object with no handle

This is most likely a scoop for measuring out black powder into cartridges. Initially we thought this was unlikely as it is made of iron, which may spark. However, as black powder had additions to stop it sparking, this might be a viable interpretation. The sharp edge of the object suggest it might have been used for measuring or cutting. 

A close up image of a gold button with a crown and a cypher reading F A
An illustration of a crown with a cypher bearing the letters F and A underneath it

This button bears a crown with a cypher beneath, possibly showing the initials FA. Our research suggests this might represent Frederick Augustus III, Elector and then King of Saxony. He was allied with Napoleon, though the Battle of Leipzig in 1813 affected his territories. The Congress of Vienna divided Saxony, whose troops were sent to the Upper Rhine and France.

A small metal object about the width of a finger, with pin pricks all over it
A vintage thimble

A personal object like this could be military or civilian. Thimbles can be open or closed at the top and would be used to protect the finger of the wearer from injury when pushing a needle through material. A soldier would carry materials to maintain their equipment and uniform, including a sewing kit. 

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.

Fragments of a metal plate. The number 1 is cut out of the middle.
Shako Plate

This shako plate, when complete, would have had an eagle mounted on top of the lower part you see here. The number 1 indicates the regiment, possibly the 1e Regiment d’Infanterie de Ligne. The plate would be attached to the front of a shako, military headgear with a tall cylindrical form, which was common at the time. Found near the South Gate of Hougoumont, the wearer of this shako might have been involved in the attack on the farm.

A curved metal object in poor condition and missing its tip
The tip of a well preserved sword and scabbard, showing a gold ornamental chape on the end

This metal sword chape was constructed to protect the tip of a leather scabbard used to carry a sword. There is leather preserved, sandwiched in between the metal. Metal tends to preserve organic materials.

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?  

A rusted metal brush which has lost most of its bristles on the end of a chain

This object is the equivalent of today’s rifle cleaning kits. The brush would be used to clean the pan on a musket firing mechanism. A pick would be used to clean debris out of the touch-hole from the pan into the muzzle. The pan and touch-hole needed to be cleaned to ensure the gunpowder used to prime the musket would light and make contact with the gunpowder inside the barrel.

A rusty with the numbers 76 on it, next to a small scale and an information sheet showing that it was discovered at Hougoumont farm in 2015
A clean button with the numbers 76 on it

This is a French regimental button, bearing the number 76, suggesting it is from the uniform of a soldier of the 76e Régiment de Ligne.

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