Programmes Recap: 2022
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
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.
Late 18th - early 19th century pewter spoon with ornate floral handle and a possible phoenix design.
Lisa, Excavation Programme participant
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
Steve, Finds Programme participant
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.
Born: 1785, Limerick, Ireland,
Died: 1888, Walsall, England
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.
Born: 1785, Limerick, Ireland,
Died: 1888, Walsall, England
Explore more untold stories of the Women of Waterloo:
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.
"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."
Chris, Virtual Programme participant
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.
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.
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."