Bones discovered in Waterloo two centuries after the famous battle

Bones discovered at Waterloo two centuries after the famous battle

The discovery of new bones was made around the farm of Mont Saint-Jean, in Belgium, where the Englishman Wellington had established at the time the main hospital of campaign.

An archaeological mission led by British researchers has unearthed new human bones at the site of the Battle of Waterloo in Belgium, a discovery described as “incredibly rare” more than two centuries after the fact.


Historians estimate that more than 20,000 soldiers were killed at Waterloo, 20 km south of Brussels, on 18 June 1815 alone, when mainly Anglo-Dutch Allied troops placed under the authority of the Duke of Wellington repulsed the Napoleonic battalions.

It was one of the worst armed clashes in history, which put an end to Bonaparte's dreams of a great empire. There were also several tens of thousands of wounded.

The discovery of new bones was made around the farm of Mont-Saint-Jean, where the Englishman Wellington had established the main Allied field hospital at the time.

The excavation of the skeleton found at the Mont-Saint-Jean farm site.

We found what looks like a complete human skeleton. And, next to that, another amputated leg. We do not know if the body was brought here by the neighborhood or if it was an injured person who died in hospital, said Tony Pollard, a professor at the University of Glasgow, one of the mission directors.

“On the Napoleonic battlefields, these kinds of very ancient traces are incredibly rare. This is the first time we have faced a big pit.

—Tony Pollard, archaeologist and professor at the University of Glasgow

This excavation project, which associates the administration of the Walloon Region with the charity Waterloo Uncovered – bringing together archaeologists, archeology students, soldiers and veterans – was launched in 2015 on the occasion of the bicentenary of the battle.

Already in 2019, the remains of three amputated legs had been discovered at the site. The search campaign was then interrupted due to the coronavirus crisis. It is supposed to be repeated every year in Waterloo for two weeks, said the Belga press agency.

Eva Collignon, a Belgian archaeologist associated with the mission, explained that the bones discovered had probably been collected in a hurry in a ditch near the field hospital, so high was the number of victims.

To listen :

  • AUDIO: Draw me on a Sunday – Story with Évelyne Ferron: The mythical battle of Waterloo

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