Remains of bodies from the Battle of Waterloo found in Belgian attic

Remains of bodies from the Battle of Waterloo found in Belgian attic
Courtesy Bernard Wilkin/AWAP

Human remains believed to belong to soldiers killed in the Battle of Waterloo were discovered in an attic in Belgium. Scientists are currently analysing the bones to identify the soldiers and learn more about them.

The Battle of Waterloo was fought near the village of Waterloo on June 18th, 1815 and resulted in the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte by the Duke of Wellington’s Allied army and the Prussians.

Although over 10,000 soldiers are believed to have died in the battle, only two bodies have been discovered thus far. Some remains were sold to the sugar industry for use in sugar refinement.

Senior researcher Bernard Wilkin from the State Archives of Belgium was recently approached by an anonymous man who claimed to have bones from Prussian soldiers in his attic. The bones have been in the man’s possession since the 1980s and were given to him for display in his private museum.

The remains were handed over to Wilkin for study and forensic testing is underway in Liège. Scientists hope to extract DNA to identify the soldiers and make facial reconstructions. German military historian Rob Schäfer is also working with Wilkin to learn more about the soldiers. They believe there is a 20-30% chance of extracting DNA from the remains.

The discovery of the bones in the attic has led Wilkin and his colleagues to suspect that more bones may be in the possession of people living near the battlefield. The researchers plan to talk to the local people to learn more.

Another surprise was revealed when Wilkin was told of a friend who had discovered the remains of four British soldiers. Those bones are being studied by an archaeologist from the Walloon Heritage Agency and a team from the Natural History Museum and the University of Brussels.