Battlefields Uncovered: Introduction to Archaeological and Historical Investigations of Conflict

Organizing institution
Utrecht University - Faculty of Humanities
Course code
Course fee (no housing)
€ 795.00

What can battlefields tell us about the past and about ourselves? This 10 day 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, a reflection and response to stimulus material under exam conditions. Participants will be asked to do some background reading and there may 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.

Download the day-to-day programme (PDF)

Course director

dr. Floris van den Eijnde


Vicki Haverkate (WU), Dr. Helle Hochscheid (University College Roosevelt). Other members of the Waterloo Uncovered Team (for example Prof. Tony Pollard, Dr Stuart Eve, Mark Evans (CEO))

Target audience

This course is aimed primarily at undergraduate students and serving and former military personnel wishing to learn about battlefield archaeology, or indeed archaeology in general. It is not necessary for participants to have taken university courses in archaeology or history before but some familiarity with and interest in the topics should be demonstrated. Because some participants may be vulnerable, Waterloo Uncovered will interview participants and be selective about admissions.

Course aim

The course will offer participants the chance to develop:
1. Specific knowledge of key battlefields and studies surrounding them.
2. An understanding of the interplay between historical and archaeological sources which can be more widely applied to many studies of the past.
3. The ability to identify the issues affecting the role of battlefields in shaping a shared and usable past.
4. The ability to communicating knowledge and perspectives about the past.
5. Some skills in processing archaeological remains at the post-excavation stage.

Study load

Over 10 days - including 1 free/ study day:
70 hours contact time : 5 days of class (lectures, seminars and group presentations).
4 days of trips (practicals, tours and an outreach event).
16 hours study time (pre-course reading).
10 hours preparation for and participation in outreach event.
16 hours study for case study and exam and the writing of a practical report and a reflective piece.


Course fee
€ 795.00


Please do not forget to upload your motivation letter and C.V. Please mention your Skype name on your C.V. and we will get back to you about the application process which will involve a short interview via Skype.

For this course you are required to upload the following documents when applying:

  • Motivation Letter
  • C.V.

More information


Application deadline: 17 June 2019