Reading to Remember
Over 200 years after it took place on the 18th June 1815, the Battle of Waterloo’s dramatic story is still recounted around the world. It has everything it takes to be memorable: high stakes, large death toll, famous commanders… No narrative, however, can truly capture the complexity of the thousands of individuals whose lives were woven together into the fabric of history that day, and those many lives cut short. But maybe by reading the accounts from those who survived, we can remember them all.
Reading to Remember is a relay reading over 11 hours, roughly the duration of the battle. In remembrance of those who fought it 200 years ago, Waterloo Uncovered participants — archaeologists, students, soldiers and veterans — take turns reading accounts of the Battle of Waterloo, in the different languages spoken there.
The event takes place in the chapel at Hougoumont, where the wounded took refuge in 1815. It’s a poignant way to link past and present, and while it is intended as both a remembrance and fundraising event, it has surprised us by being the source of very strong reactions from those who read or listened. Some are touched by the similarities between the experiences of soldiers in 1815 and modern day soldiers, others, by the atmosphere of the chapel during this multilingual litany. All get to reflect, sometimes very emotionally, on the human experience, and on the cost of Waterloo.
The readings are recorded, giving the public — and those who want to kindly sponsor our participants — an occasion to hear stories from the battle, told in the voices of our team and in the unique acoustic of the chapel.