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Heritage in Devon

Devon is celebrated for the great beauty and diversity of its ancient landscapes, its historic towns and villages, traditional buildings, and archaeological sites. From amazingly preserved prehistoric stone rows and Bronze Age settlements on Dartmoor to the Tamar Valley’s industrial heritage; from dramatic Iron Age hilltop camps to Norman castles and Victorian coastal forts; from medieval manors to Tudor town houses, Devon has the lot, and all set in stunning landscapes.

Where else has over two thousand Scheduled Ancient Monuments, nineteen thousand Listed Historic Buildings and forty Registered Historic Parks and Gardens? Where else has so many historic and cultural landscapes such as Devon’s two National Parks, five Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and two World Heritage Sites?

Devon’s coast has been at the forefront of invasion, trade, and overseas exploration for thousands of years. The county has twelve estuaries, over 400 km of coastline, many historic ports, fishing harbours and links to great historic events such as the Spanish Armada and D-Day. Devon’s maritime heritage is second to none and is supported by TIDE Home (tide-atlantic.eu) 

Devon’s historic environment has something to offer in all seasons. Many sites are open all year round and Devon’s long-distance trails are a great way to experience the county’s heritage. The South West Coast Path will take you to stunning prehistoric cliff castles, limekilns and lookout stations, and the mighty Palmerston forts near Plymouth. The East Devon Way wanders through Bronze Age round-barrow cemeteries and past Woodbury Castle hillfort. The Tamar Valley Discovery Trail and the Tamar Trails lead to historic river quays and some of Devon’s finest industrial heritage. The Tarka Trail from Braunton to Meeth uses the historic railway lines of North Devon. The Two Castles Trail links the strongholds of Okehampton and Launceston.

Devon’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty provide information and visitor guides to the archaeological heritage of these premier protected landscapes. If you are interested in Devon’s many castles, stately homes and their great parks and gardens, find out what English Heritage and the National Trust have to offer.

Local groups such as the Devon Archaeological Society  provide information and guides on archaeological sites, active excavation projects, events, lectures and open days.

Devon’s museums have displays on the major archaeological discoveries that have been made over the years. The main collections are held by the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter, the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon, Plymouth City Museum and Torbay Museum.

Aerial photo of Morwellham Quay

Morwellham Quay

Much of the Tamar Valley in West Devon was once home to a thriving mining industry. This industry needed a
Photo of a group of people inside Beer Quarry caves

Beer Quarry Caves

Beer Quarry Caves provide a fascinating insight into the geology of East Devon, where a unique limestone was formed on
Photo of the red sandstone shore and sea with cliffs behind near Orcombe Point in Exmouth

Orcombe Point to Lympstone

Orcombe Point marks the western gateway of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site and its oldest rocks, dating from the
Photo inside Kents Cavern showing stalactites and stalagmites

Kents Cavern

Kents Cavern is fascinating for both its geology and human history. It boasts beautiful and spectacular geological formations and significant
Landscape photos looking across grassy mounds of the iron age hillfort Blackdown Rings

Blackdown Rings

This site provides a stunning viewpoint showing the broad geological features of the South Hams. Blackdown Rings consists of an
Photo of Tavistock Town Hall

Tavistock and Tavistock Railway Cutting

Tavistock, originally founded in 974 AD with the building of the Benedictine Abbey, has been greatly influenced by the local
Photo of South Brentor Church on top of the tor at Brent Tor, Dartmoor

Brent Tor

Brent Tor is one of the most impressive rock outcrops on Dartmoor. With St Michael’s Church at its top, it
Photo of Killerton Chapel

Killerton Park

The area around Killerton shows signs of having experienced high levels of volcanic activity about 285 million years ago. Evidence
Photo of cyclists on a trail under a viaduct on the Granite Way
11miles/
18kms

The Granite Way

The Granite Way is an 11-mile cycle and walkway running between Okehampton and Lydford along the north western edge of
Photo of Exeter Cathedral

Exeter City Walls and Cathedral

Over 70% of the wall that once protected Exeter still remains and reveals a lot about the geology of the