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Treasures of old on show at Devizes museum
12:00pm Sunday 20th May 2012 in Devizes
One of Devizes’ oldest residents is now part of an exhibition about the town on at Wiltshire Heritage Museum.
The Roundway Warrior, who was born 4,000 or so years ago, was unearthed by archaeologist William Cunnington in 1855 and the artefacts found in his grave have been part of the museum’s collection ever since.
Assistant curator Kerry Nickels, who has assembled the exhibition, said: “The material has been on display but it is the kind of thing you can walk straight past without noticing.
“We think of people in those days being very parochial but the copper dagger that was buried with him came from central Europe, probably from Austria, and the jade bracer, used by archers to protect their wrists, is from Spain.”
The exhibition traces the history of Devizes from prehistoric times, with fossils of trilobites found in the local area, to the founding of the castle after the Norman Conquest, through the medieval period to the town’s heyday in the 18th century.
Ms Nickels said: “We have a vast collection relating to Devizes history but it is not obvious when you go round the museum. We wanted to create an exhibition that gives an overview of entire history of the town.”
The town dates from the creation of Devizes Castle – or Castrum Ad Divisas, the castle at the boundary – in the 11th century, and its royal charter was bestowed on it by a grateful Empress Maud in 1141 during her civil war against King Stephen.
Devizes prospered with the building of the Kennet and Avon Canal in the late 18th and early 19th centuries when Anstie’s tobacco company was the largest employer.
The exhibition culminates in modern times with the Freedom of the Borough being bestowed on its first female recipient, former mayor Patricia Morris. This display case was put together by volunteer Edith Pickering and features a picture of her being presented to the Princess Royal during a visit to Devizes in 1989 when Miss Pickering was chairman of the local branch of Save the Children.
As well as the exhibition, there are a number of lectures planned in the next few months. For full details, visit the website, www.wiltshire heritage.org.uk
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