Devonshire countryside
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History of Devon

A brief history of Devon, from the early settlers from Norman, Viking and Saxon invasions to the momentous remanence of a World War 2 training ground, the county of Devon has changed a lot over the years and a deep history and a prosperous future means Devon is a very fortunate county indeed. Find out what makes Devon so great and how the War, industrial change and coastal popularity impacts day to day life.

Settlers Invading Devon

Exeter is one of the products of the Roman invasion, but there is little evidence that the Romans settled in Devon for long. Many other settlers made their way to the South West over the years including Anglo-Saxons, Vikings and Normans. Some of the oldest buildings in the UK can be found on Dartmoor which was an old forest before it was burnt and cleared to make way for new growth and farming. 


The third largest county, Devon encompasses a number of significant locations and historical landmarks from the 10 Tors of Dartmoor to the fishing villages along the Jurassic coast.  

Dartmoor and Exmoor stretch for miles but beneath the green fields of Dartmoor were once a number of tin mines that helped the ports of Exeter, Plymouth and Barnstaple thrive dating back as far as mediaeval times. 

Nowadays much of Devon is used for agriculture, thanks for the luscious lands and large open fields perfect for grazing or farming.  


In 1944 American troops landed on Saunton beach and Braunton burrows to train in a realistic environment ready for an assault on the French beaches. Today evidence of the training camps can be found in the burrows such as large concrete landing docs and number concrete blocks scattered throughout the burrows left from military debris. After the war there was little need for American military training here and many of the troops left, in 1992 a memorial was erected in memory of the soldiers who trained here. The area has long had a military connection, the Royal Air Force base in Chivenor was in use from 1940 - 1995, now the camp is used by Royal Marines. 

The Rise of Tourism

It seems obvious now that the South West is a tourist destination but due to its geographical location and distance from the buzzing cities on the East and North, many towns and villages in Devon were not introduced to tourists until the 19th Century. Once the South West Railway was built tourists would flock to the beaches in their thousands thus creating an opportunity for local shops to boom and begin to experience the benefit of tourism. 

Now tourism touches most parts of Devon and continues to support local communities across the County with seasonal interest in coastal, country, and remote holidays. 

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