Were the Waterloo dead plundered and used to refine sugar?

22nd August 2022
Hattie Ford

Brand new research carried out by our Archaeological Director Professor Tony Pollard, alongside historians Dr Bernard Wilkin and Robin Schäfer, suggests this may have been the gruesome fate of many of those killed in the Battle of Waterloo...

Using dozens of contemporary written accounts in Belgian, German and French archives, three researchers including our Archaeological Director Professor Tony Pollard have come to the conclusion that bones of the Waterloo dead were plundered from 1834 onwards, and used in the process of refining sugar in Belgian sugar mills.

Their work, which has been covered in the press internationally and has been the subject of a History Hit podcast, sheds new light on the aftermath of the Battle of Waterloo, which would have left thousands of bodies strewn across the Belgian landscape. Professor Pollard has previously published an academic paper outlining the role that the bones of the dead likely played in the European fertiliser trade, which can be read here.

Find out more about this groundbreaking research via the Daily Mail.
Listen to History Hit's latest podcast to learn more about the fate of the Waterloo dead.
An illustration showing a sugar beet factory and refinery, set up just three miles from the Waterloo battle site.

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