Norfolk veteran joins Waterloo archaeological dig to combat mental health

Veterans taking part in the dig last year. Picture: Waterloo Uncovered

Veterans taking part in the dig last year. Picture: Waterloo Uncovered - Credit: Archant

Veterans from across the country are making their way to the Battle of Waterloo battlefield on the hunt for Napoleon relics.

Les McCulloch will be making the trip to Belgium. Picture: Les McCulloch

Les McCulloch will be making the trip to Belgium. Picture: Les McCulloch - Credit: Archant

The group are making the trip to the Belgium field to take part in an archeological dig as part of Waterloo Uncovered- a charity specialising in veteran care and recovery through archeology.

Les McCulloch served in the army since leaving school in 1981. Working his way through the ranks to a Major, now 54, he has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) but finds that archeology helps with his symptoms.

The father-of-two said: 'It's to introduce many injured veterans, either with physical injuries or mental health problems, to archeology and the advantages and values of it.

'You can enjoy the peace and quiet and meet like minded people while learning a new skill.'

A pin that was found during ast years dig. Picture: Waterloo Uncovered

A pin that was found during ast years dig. Picture: Waterloo Uncovered - Credit: Archant


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The team use a combination of modern equipment including metal detectors as well as tradition tools like hand trowels.

'I've been getting my gear together,' Mr McCulloch said, 'it is exciting to go and do something new and learn a new skill meeting people in a different environment, not thinking about my problems - it's really exciting.

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'The last group, they found a lot of musket balls, uniforms and buildings from the battle. I don't know what I'm going to find which is part of the excitement.

'I was a typical boy who didn't really enjoy school or education but the army educated and really helped me and I moved through the soldier ranks to Major.'

Veterans taking part in the dig last year. Picture: Waterloo Uncovered

Veterans taking part in the dig last year. Picture: Waterloo Uncovered - Credit: Archant

Mr McCulloch has served in Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Iraq, Afghanistan, Canada and Nepal. In total 25 veterans will be taking the trip to Belgium.

Originally from Scotland Mr McCulloch moved to Attleborough in 2015. He added: 'The biggest excitement is not knowing what you might find. I've got no preconceptions about it, it's just the wonder of finding something.'

Waterloo Uncovered was founded by Mark Evans and Charlie Foinette after they discovered that archaeology helped Mr Evans' PTSD recovery. This, combined with the pairs love of history inspired them to create the charity.

The team will head out to Waterloo on July 7 with the dig ending on July 21.

The farm on the Waterloo Battlefield site. Picture: Waterloo Uncovered

The farm on the Waterloo Battlefield site. Picture: Waterloo Uncovered - Credit: Archant

The Battle of Waterloo was fought in June 1815 with Napoleon's French army being defeated by British and Prussian allies.

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