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) 

TIDE logo colourInterreg Atlantic Area logo COLOR

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 (The Box) and Torbay Museum.

Slapton Sands Memorials

In 1943 some 3000 people were evacuated from the Slapton Sands area of South Devon in order to provide a

Putsborough Bombing Range

The North Devon coast provided important training grounds for Allied forces during the Second World War.  The area also saw

HMS Montagu

HMS Montagu was a steel British Duncan class battleship built at Devonport Dockyard, Plymouth in 1901 in direct response to

Exeter Quay

Exeter’s Quayside situated next to the River Exe and the Exeter Ship Canal is a popular destination for locals and
Large house and garden with tree.

Buckland Abbey

Buckland Abbey, which is now a National Trust property, has a particularly interesting history, transforming from a medieval abbey to

Exeter Custom House

The Custom House, a nationally important Grade I listed building is located at Exeter Quayside where thousands of tourists flock

Dartmouth Castle

Dartmouth Castle has played a strategic role in protecting the mouth of the Dart Estuary for more than 600 years

West Soar Signal Station

West Soar Signal Station is a rare example of a surviving late 18th century Napoleonic signalling station.  It was one
View of Greenway House

Greenway House, Galmpton

Greenway House, now owned by the National Trust, is a late 18th century mansion set within landscaped and wooded grounds
Small domed stone building.

Culmstock Beacon

Culmstock Beacon provides a stunning viewpoint south to the River Culm valley and the historic village of Culmstock.  The Beacon

Dartmoor Prison and Museum

Dartmoor Prison was built in 1806-9 to house French prisoners of war.  Its construction was partly prompted by the pressures
View of Compton Castle.

Compton Castle

Compton Castle is a 14th century fortified manor house set amidst rolling hills a short way inland from Torquay.  Houses
Photo showing exterior of church

All Saints Parish Church, East Budleigh

The village of East Budleigh, and the parish church of All Saints in particular, is very much connected with the

Brandy Head Observation Post

The Devon coastline not only played a strategic role in the active defence of Britain and the Allied invasion of

Beer Head 10 Gun Battery

The beginning of the 19th century was a tense time in Britain, with a fear of invasion caused by political

Bayard’s Cove Fort

Dartmouth, and the Dart Estuary, has long been an important coastal port and as such has been variously afforded 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 Fort Charles

Fort Charles, Salcombe

This historic coastal Fort provides a stunning viewpoint of the Kingsbridge Estuary and Salcombe Harbour. Fort Charles (also known as
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 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 grassy fields down to coastal cliffs and the sea at Berry Head

Berry Head, Brixham

Berry Head offers spectacular views across Torbay.  So it is not surprising that it was chosen as a strategic location
Photo of cyclists on a trail under a viaduct on the Granite Way

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