Keen Devizes historian unveils 'truth' behind civil war battle

This Is Wiltshire: Keith Genever with his book The Civil War Comes to Devizes Keith Genever with his book The Civil War Comes to Devizes

Amateur historian Keith Genever’s 38 years of researching the Battle of Roundway Down has led to him writing a book.

Mr Genever, 73, has found many artefacts on the hill over the years by extensive metal detecting. His discoveries have led him to dispute some of the earlier versions of where the battle was fought.

His investigations support local historian Dr Lorna Haycock’s theory about the location of the battle.

Mr Genever, of Waylands, Devizes, said: “The Battle of Roundway Down started between Morgan’s Hill and Roughridge Hill on the top of Roundway Down.

“That’s half a mile from where it was thought to be. The troops walked all the way down the field and were pushed across to Roundway Culvert. In that field I found cannon balls and musket shot. That’s where it ended.

“I have read seven accounts of the battle and they are all different. Lorna Haycock wrote a book ten years ago about it. Hers and mine match up quite well. “Colonel Burns in 1920 wrote an account of it and he is spot on. The evidence I have for my book is what I have found through metal detecting.

“Historians have been proved wrong in the past – the battles of Hastings and Bosworth were found to be in the wrong areas.”

Mr Genever began metal detecting in 1975 to relax from his job as a psychiatric nurse at Roundway Hospital.

His book took him nine months to write and it includes a map of where he says the battle started and ended and a walk around the battle sites. The book also covers the siege of Devizes beforehand when the Parliamentarians camped on Jump Hill and fired on St James’ Church.

The 70 page book, called The Civil War Comes to Devizes and which Mr Genever published himself, features photos and sections on Civil War armoury, coinage and commanders.

His initial print run of over 60 sold out and more have been printed available at Devizes Books, price £12.50. Any profits will go to Wiltshire Air Ambulance and Cancer Research UK.

Mr Genever said: “I’m so overwhelmed that people have bought the book.

“It was my first effort and I had help with my grammar. It has proved popular because it is about Devizes.”

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