Waterloo Uncovered is an archaeology project born in 2015 out of the desire of two friends to link past and present wars — to understand them and their impact on people.
The project uses conflict archaeology to educate the public, and to support the military community (serving, non-serving, friends, families, regiments, and organisations) and others affected by war.
The military community is at the heart of Waterloo Uncovered’s DNA, and military participants bring their unique perspective, skills, and experience to help the archaeology. In return, they get to learn new skills, have new experiences and support in their recovery (and more).
A bit of project history
It started when Mark Evans, project CEO, was diagnosed with PTSD after “a bit of a rubbish tour in Afghanistan”. Encouraged by his friend Charles Foinette, with whom he shares both a UCL degree in archaeology and serving in the army (Coldstream Guards), he took part in an MoD project to support veterans through archaeology. That is where Charlie and Mark discovered that archaeology could help veteran recovery. This was a revelation to the pair, who soon got their own idea.
With the bicentinary of the battle of Waterloo then approaching, Mark and Charlie got interested in building a project around the site of the battle — incredibly famous yet almost untouched by archaeologists. Thus was born Waterloo Uncovered.
In fact it was incredible how little archaeology had been done on the battlefield: “like knowing where Pompeii was buried, but never lifting a trowel to exavate it.”
While eyewitness accounts are abundant, they are often recounted through the fog of the battlefield, and of time. They can be biased, patchy, and confusing. Somewhere between the written record and the physical evidence provided by archaeology lies the truth about what happened, and what it might have been like for a soldier to fight and die here.
But through the 200 years since the battle, looters, modern farming, and erosion by the natural environment have removed the major part of the archaeological evidence. What is left needs to be recorded now or risk being lost forever.
It is important for Waterloo Uncovered to promote international collaboration, and turn conflict into collaboration on this project. To make WU a reality, Charlie and Mark sought help from some of Europe’s top archaeologists and historians, who readily joined the project. Universities, companies, governments, organisations and individuals all jumped aboard, seizing the chance to be a part of such an ambitious project. (Explore our website to read more about our Team and Supporters)
So armed with the best minds and latest technology (geophysics, smartphones, augmented reality, social media) they developed a plan to produce a world class archaeological project. The work has begun in 2015 at Hougoumont Farm but there is an entire battlefield waiting to be excavated. Now Waterloo Uncovered intends to go back at least until 2020 to uncover more of the archaeological evidence that is still out there.
Each team member in WU has their own motivations, but there is a common thread that binds them together: a desire to work alongside members of the modern military – themselves scarred by war – in the painstaking task of piecing together this extraordinary moment in history. To be a part of a project that is truly groundbreaking.
Discovery aiding recovery
Archaeology has been proven to help recovery from injury. A multifaceted discipline, it offers opportunities to everyone no matter their ability or injury. In particular, it is very helpful to those who suffer or suffered from PTSD. The work not only provides interest and focus but is also meditative. Its outdoors and team based nature is particularly appealing to soldiers, and the chance to do work that will be appreciated and seen by the public makes it even more rewarding.
What is more, archaeology offers a real vocational experience; a number of those from the excavations have carried on with archaeology or have been inspired (back) into education.
All who participate achieve something and play their part in uncovering some new and unique history.
You can read stories from our serving personnel and veteran participants here.
You can easily help
It costs £230 a day to take a veteran or soldier away with us. To make the project work we rely on donations from trusts, foundations, charities and individuals.
You can help us though donations via our donate page, and we’re happy donations in kind. If you have a bit of kit (from a trowel to a JCB digger) you can lend or give us we’d be only too happy to hear from you. If you happen to own an airline and want to fly us to and from Belgium, please don’t hesitate to pick up the phone !
We’re looking forward to hearing from you.