After the armies moved on, either routed or doing the routing, the field would be left to the looters.  Soldiers, no doubt, but also camp followers such as wives, prostitutes and baggage train minders, along with any locals.  They’d loot the dead, dying and wounded of anything of value – coins, clothing, weaponry, rings, boots.  Even teeth were pulled out with pliers, which for years were known as Waterloo Teeth.  And it didn’t pay for the wounded to resist too much for fear of having their throats cut.

It’s reckoned that as many as 50,000 men of the Anglo-Dutch, Prussian and French armies lost their lives that day.  But here’s the thing.  Archeologists have found only a handful of remains.  So, 50,000 combatants, not to mention horses, and no skeletons.

For years there existed an urban myth explaining this and now research by the University of Glasgow adds scholastic weight to the theory; namely, that the site at Waterloo (and others at Austerlitz and Jena) witnessed grave robbing on an industrial scale.  It’s believed these mass burial sites were exhumed, the bones stolen and ground down to provide bonemeal fertilizer for the farmers of England.  Imported at Hull, the fields around Doncaster were the likely destination of the stuff “to give us our daily bread”.


Often before the wounded expired

The looters moved in on the dead to acquire

Their bounty  which they would extract with pliers;

The treasure these dead would bequeath

Were known as Waterloo Teeth.




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John Coopey

Mon 26th Sep 2022 18:04

There’s more chance of you getting your teeth knocked out at Waterloo Station, Stephen.
And thanks for the Likes, Holden and Nigel.

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Stephen Gospage

Mon 26th Sep 2022 17:15

Interesting, John. Waterloo's just round the corner from me - I'll pop down there with my pliers as soon as I can!

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John Coopey

Mon 26th Sep 2022 12:35

Thankyou, Izzy. There is a school of thought that argues literature should be “nice”. I don’t think Shakespeare subscribed to that view!
Quite, Martin. I’ve told my kids to Chuck me on the compost heap when I’ve gone.
And thanks for the Like, Frederick.

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Martin Elder

Mon 26th Sep 2022 12:10

Very informative and in our terms today quite gruesome. Dare I say it that it puts a whole new perspective on recycling!

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Mon 26th Sep 2022 09:29

Yuk - that's a nasty piece - I bet you do get that said to you very often 🤣

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John Coopey

Sun 25th Sep 2022 17:06

Thanks John and MC.
I walked round Towton battlefield a couple of years ago. It’s reckoned to be the bloodiest battle on English soil. It was a bloody inhospitable place with a howling Gale and the rain coming in upwards of horizontal. Pity the buggers who fought there in a blizzard with some hairy arsed bloke trying to stove your head in.

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M.C. Newberry

Sun 25th Sep 2022 16:52

Good to see an unchallenged example of "taking us beyond our
comfort zone"! Extraordinary information considering the
frequency of warfare in centuries past. I visited the Waterloo
site years ago and confess that the consideration of this
somewhat startling information didn't enter my mind.

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John Botterill

Sun 25th Sep 2022 15:24

Very informative, John, and I can see some links to more recent Events. Thanks for this. 👍

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