What can battlefields tell us about the past and about ourselves? This course, suitable for anyone with an interest in archaeology or military history, investigates the interplay between history and archaeology and explores the narratives that influence the way in which the past is remembered and presented. You will experience exclusive access to the latest results of ground breaking research at the site of the Battle of Waterloo and take part in expert led tours of several battlefields, hands on archaeological practicals and interdisciplinary seminars.
This course offers an in-depth, uniquely interdisciplinary, and often surprising exploration of battlefields and their archaeology. The course welcomes not just university students but also serving or former military personnel and offers room for all participants to learn from each other.
A mixture of lectures, seminars and workshops, hands-on access to archaeological materials and trips to different battlefields will make up the course. Teaching comes from a range of experienced and talented lecturers including leading academic and field archaeologists, historians and heritage and outreach professionals. In the lectures and seminars a wide range of case studies will be examined; unravelling the interplay between history and archaeology and exploring how personal perspectives matter. We will consider the processes of remembering and presenting the past and the many different identities and narratives that influence our relationships with it. The shared and often sensitive heritage of conflict is a clear way to highlight many issues which apply much more widely. So, you don’t have to be familiar with studying battles to find much of interest.
At the heart of the course is the legendary battlefield of Waterloo and the exclusive contributions from the team of Waterloo Uncovered (WU). This groundbreaking organization combines world leading archaeological research with veteran care and recovery on the site of Napoleon’s last battle. A member of the expert team will guide us on a bespoke tour of the excavations conducted by WU. Participants will also learn how a range of archaeological approaches such as geo-physics, digital mapping, excavation, finds analysis and new digital approaches such as augmented reality have allowed the team to gain new insights into the historic battle.
There will also be tours of other Napoleonic battlefields and of World War Two sites and museums close to Middelburg. These tours will take a historical perspective and serve to provide both an interesting extension to the focus on the Napoleonic era, and also a clear contrast through the mid twentieth century sites. At all sites participants will reflect on how conflict heritage is or should be presented to the public and how that contributes to a collective memory of war.
All participants will take part in a practical session working with archaeological finds and an outreach event which will form part of their assessment. Further assessment will be based on participation, a collaborative investigation and presentation summarising, a reflection and a response to stimulus material under exam conditions. Participants will be asked to do some background reading and there will be an option to gain more credits for those willing to submit a related paper (this should be discussed in advance with the course leader).
This course is linked to the fieldwork project “Waterloo Uncovered Battlefield Excavation” which is a residential excavation at the site of the Battle of Waterloo. Both courses are complementary and may be taken together.
Vicki Haverkate, Hans Bloemsma, Tobias van Gent, Helle Hochscheid, Frans van Overveld.
Members of the Waterloo Uncovered Team (for example Prof. Tony Pollard, Dr Stuart Eve, Mark Evans (CEO))