County History

DEVON is a south-western shire on the English and Bristol Channels, adjoining to the peninsula of Cornwall, bounded on the north and north-west by the Bristol Channel, on the north-west by Somerset, on the east by Dorset, and on the south by the English Channel: the river Tumar, seperating it from Cornwall, forms the greater part of the western boundary.

The earliest inhabitants of Devon are not known, but are supposed to have been from Lappish or Finnish origin. At an early period it was inhabited by the Iberians, as the names of the rivers - the Tamar, Taw, and tavy - show. Of the early periods there are many relics, e.g. circles of stone, including Grimspound on dartmoor, and the Scorhill circle. there are many cromlechs and other monuments of rude stone, and early weapons have been found. The Welsh and the Belgians were gradually overcoming the Iberians, and driving them west, when, in the beginning of the Christian era, the Romans made themselves masters of the islands. The tribe they found here was named the Damnonii.

The Romans thickly settled the whole of Devon, as the names of places will show. The chief towns were Isca Damnoniorum (now Exeter) and Muridunum.

The Roman settlements are so numerous that they would form a long list, about 500 being recognisable. On the downfall of the Romans, the Welsh and mixed Romans were left to themselves, and several west Welsh kingdoms were formed in Devon and Cornwall, among which war and strife, religious and civil, were constant. Of the period of the Welsh sway there are no ethnological remains.

On the English invading Britain, Devon early drew their attention; and in 614 the West Saxons made their first attack. Their progress was slow, and it was not until 925 that the King of the Cornwelsh was at length driven beyond the Tamar. From 876 to 1003, Devon was, however, wasted by the Danes. At Kenwith Castle, near Northam, are the remains of the old building, in the attack on which the Danes, under Hubba, were defeated by the saxons, under Alfred, and their standard captured; an old tradition assigns a spot, still known as "Bloody Corner", as the scene of a duel between two of the chieftains: and at Appledore is the landing-place where the invaders first set foot on this land. nevertheless, the nWelsh in Devon were exterminated, and the land settled by English.

A great many of the population of Devon are descended from the original English settlers, but slightly mixed with Cornish. The latter are chiefly settled in the Plymouth and Tavistock districts, and are partly engaged in mining.

the scenery in the greater part of the county is very beautiful and diversified; the climate is moist, with a very mild temperature in the south, but bleak on the moors. the south coast is so mild that the myrtle grows freely, and oranges, lemons and citrons flourish in the open air, and it is much frequented by invalids during the winter.

Transcribed from Kellys' Directory of Devonshire, 1935