Battle relics go on show in Devizes

This Is Wiltshire: Keith Genever and Bill Underwood with some of the finds from the battle on display Keith Genever and Bill Underwood with some of the finds from the battle on display

After 37 years of investigation, Devizes amateur historian Keith Genever has put on show the artefacts he has found from the Battle of Roundway and Siege of Devizes.

Visitors to the Shambles market hall on Monday were able to see a selection of the cannon balls, lead shot, clay pipes and other items that Mr Genever, 72, from Waylands, has picked up since he bought his first metal detector in 1975.

They date from the Battle of Roundway Down during the English Civil War in 1643.

The retired psychiatric nurse said: “I started off on The Green but the police stopped me and asked me what I was doing. A local farmer told me to go up Roundway Down.

“I went up there looking for coins but I started finding all these things from the battle.

“I tried to get the museum interested but at the time they didn’t want to know. They were only interested in the Bronze Age.”

But things have changed in recent years and Mr Genever has a much more cordial relationship with the staff at Wiltshire Heritage Museum in Long Street.

He said: “I have found so many things up there. It must have been a terrible battle.”

It is not just ammunition that Mr Genever has found. There are buckles, powder measures and dagger “chapes”. He has made his own replica weapons of the time, based on the genuine articles on show at Littlecote House at Froxfield.

Mr Genever’s investigations support Dr Lorna Haycock’s theory about where the battle was fought.

Because of the concentration of items, the centre of the battle has now been confirmed as taking place on the open down between Roundway Hill, Morgan’s Hill, King’s Play Hill and Roughridge Hill.

Mr Genever also claims to have located the site on Jump Farm Hill of the artillery that bombarded the town before the battle.

Mr Genever has found several items relating to the action, including a large piece of lead, presumably taken from a church roof, that was used to manufacture bullets and lead shot.

Mr Genever said: “It is an obvious place to put artillery if you want to bombard a town. The entire town is laid out before you.”

Former hairdresser and historian Bill Underwood said: “What Keith has done is amazing. His work has helped to clarify an awful lot of what we now understand about the battle.”

Mr Genever said he was willing to bring his exhibition to any community event that was interested.

Comments (1)

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9:47pm Thu 25 Oct 12

DavidDawson says...

Mr Genever kindly lent his finds to the Museum for the Story of Devizes exhibition. The exhibition is on until Christmas - so there is still time to come and see it!
Mr Genever kindly lent his finds to the Museum for the Story of Devizes exhibition. The exhibition is on until Christmas - so there is still time to come and see it! DavidDawson
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