Thursday, June 21, 2018

Friday Video: Was This Jacket Worn at the Battle of Waterloo?

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Susan reporting,

"Provenance" is an important word among museum curators, and refers to the history of an artifact or artwork. Sometimes the provenance is detailed and indisputable, a sure trail from one owner to another. More often, however, facts become a bit hazy, particularly with historical garments. Family traditions and wishful thinking often contribute to create breathless stories about how "this dress was worn by my great-great-great-grandmother when she danced with the Marquis de Lafayette", and are often taken with a big grain of salt by curators.

The uniform jacket featured in this video had a tradition of having been worn by Sir Thomas Noel Harris, Brigade-Major, at the Battle of Waterloo. He danced at the Duchess of Richmond's ball before being called to join his regiment, and then fought unscathed until the last day of the battle. A musket ball - or perhaps two? - pierced both his arm and his side, severely wounding him.  He lay among the dead and dying on the battlefield overnight, until he was discovered by a searching family member and taken to a dressing station. There his arm was amputated, but he did survive and recover, and continue to serve in the army.

But was this really Sir Thomas's jacket, and was it in fact worn by him at Waterloo? This video shows the different scientific tests used by the Cranfield Forensic Institute to answer that question. It's a fascinating mix of CSI-style forensic examination plus the known history of the jacket, the wearer, and the battle.

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Betsy said...

Your posts to my email some of the most delightful I receive.
I wait until the end of the day so that I may read them in great

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