This page is about the English county, for alternative meanings see Devon (disambiguation).
Status Ceremonial & (smaller) Administrative County
Region South West England
- Total
- Admin. council
- Admin. area
Ranked 4th
6,707 km²
Ranked 3rd
6,564 km²
Admin HQ Exeter
ISO 3166-2 GB-DEV
ONS code 18
- Total (2002 est.)
- Density
- Admin. council
- Admin. pop.
Ranked 11th
162 / km²
Ranked 12th
Ethnicity 98.7% White
Devon County Council
Executive Liberal Democrat
Members of Parliament
  1. Exeter
  2. East Devon
  3. Mid Devon
  4. North Devon
  5. Torridge
  6. West Devon
  7. South Hams
  8. Teignbridge
  9. Plymouth (Unitary)
  10. Torbay (Unitary)

Devon is a county in South West England, bordering on Cornwall to the west, Dorset and Somerset to the east. The name Devonshire was common but is now rarely used, although it does feature in some names and titles (such as the Duke of Devonshire), and is still to be seen on signposts in the county.



Main article: History of Devon.

Devon was one of the first areas of England settled following the end of the last ice age. Dartmoor is thought to have been settled by Mesolithic hunter-gatherer peoples from about 6000 BC. The name "Devon" derives from name given by the Romans to the Celtic people who inhabited the south western peninsula of Britain at the time of the Roman invasion c. 50AD , the Dumnonii thought to mean 'Deep Valley Dwellers'. The Romans held the area under Military Occupation for approx 25 years. Later the area was a frontier between Brythonic Dumnonia and Saxon Wessex, and some historians claim that this resulted in the effective conquest of Devon by Wessex by 715 and its formal annexation around 805. However this is a matter of controversy. Later William of Malmesbury claimed "that the Britons and Saxons inhabited Exeter aequo jure" ("as equals") in 927.

By the ninth century, however, the major threat to Saxon control of Devon came not from the native British but from Viking raiders, and sporadic incursions continued until the Norman Conquest. A few Norse placenames remain as a result, for example Lundy Island, though the Vikings' most lasting legacy is probably the move of the cathedral from Crediton to Exeter.

Devon has also featured in most of the civil conflicts in England since the Norman conquest, including the Wars of the Roses and Perkin Warbeck's rising in 1497, the Prayer Book Rebellion of 1549 and the English Civil War. Perhaps most notably, the last successful military invasion of Britain, the arrival of William of Orange to launch the Glorious Revolution of 1688, took place at Torquay.

Devon has produced tin, copper and other metals from ancient times. Devon's tin miners enjoyed a substantial degree of independence through Devon's stannary parliament, which dates back to the twelfth century. The last recorded sitting was in 1748, and it is believed they then adjourned to a pub in Tavistock.

Devon is also known for its mariners, such as Sir Francis Drake, Gilbert, Sir Richard Grenville and Sir Walter Raleigh.


Missing image

Devon has its own (unofficial) flag which has been dedicated to Saint Petroc, who is a local saint with numerous dedications throughout Devon and neighbouring counties. This flag was adopted in 2003 after a competition run by BBC Devon [1] ( The winning design was created by website contributor Ryan Sealey, and won 49% of the votes cast. The creation of the flag has however caused some controversy.

The cross design is reminscent of both England's St George's Cross and neighbouring Cornwall's Saint Piran's Flag, which also uses black and white, and the colours of the flag are those popularly identified with Devon (eg the colours of its Rugby Union team), and Viscount (or Lord) Exmouth flew a Green and White Flag at the Battle of Algiers (now on view at the Teign Valley Museum).

Geology, landscape and ecology

Main article: Geology of Devon.

The Dartmoor National Park lies wholly in Devon, and the Exmoor National Park partly so (the remainder is in Somerset). In addition Devon is the only county in England to have two completely separate coastlines. Both the North and South coasts offer dramatic views: much of both coastlines is named as Heritage Coast, and the South West Coast Path runs along the entire length of the both. The inland of the county has much attractive rolling rural scenery, and villages with thatched Cob cottages. All these features make Devon a popular holiday destination for many Britons. The variety of scenery and habitats means that there is an exceptional range of Dartmoor wildlife. A popular challenge among birders is to find over 100 species in the county in a day.

Missing image
Heathland at Woodbury Common in southeast Devon

The landscape of the south coast consists of rolling hills dotted with small towns, such as Dartmouth, Salcombe, Totnes etc. The towns of Torquay and Paignton are the principal seaside resorts on the south coast. The north of the county is very rural with few major towns except Barnstaple, Great Torrington and Bideford.


Like its neighbouring county to the west, Cornwall, Devon is relatively disadvantaged economically (as compared to other parts of southern England) because of the decline of many traditional industries such as fishing, mining and farming. Most of Devon has qualified for the European Community Objective 2 status. The epidemic of Foot and Mouth (Hoof and Mouth) disease in 2001 harmed much of the farming community severely and had knock-on effects on the rest of the county. The attractive lifestyle of the area is drawing in many new industries which are not heavily dependent upon geographical location; Dartmoor, for instance, has recently seen a significant rise in the percentage of its inhabitants involved in the financial services sector. Devon is one of the rural counties, with the advantages and problems characteristic of these.

Politics and administration

The administrative centre of Devon is the city of Exeter. The city of Plymouth, the largest city in Devon, and the conurbation of Torbay (including the towns of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham) are now unitary authorities separate from Devon for the purposes of local government.

Nearly half of the holdings of the Duchy of Cornwall are in Devon.

Cities, towns and villages

The inner harbour, , south Devon, at low tide
The inner harbour, Brixham, south Devon, at low tide
Part of the seafront of , south Devon, at high tide
Part of the seafront of Torquay, south Devon, at high tide
Missing image
The Great Red cliff of Foreland point
Missing image
The beach at Westward Ho!, north Devon, looking north towards the Taw and Torridge estuaries

This is a list of the main towns and cities in Devon, for a complete list of settlements see list of places in Devon.

Places of interest


See also: Category:Rivers in Devon

Devon as a descriptor

See also

External links

United Kingdom | England | Ceremonial counties of England Flag of England

Bedfordshire | Berkshire | City of Bristol | Buckinghamshire | Cambridgeshire | Cheshire | Cornwall | Cumbria | Derbyshire | Devon | Dorset | Durham | East Riding of Yorkshire | East Sussex | Essex | Gloucestershire | Greater London | Greater Manchester | Hampshire | Herefordshire | Hertfordshire | Isle of Wight | Kent | Lancashire | Leicestershire | Lincolnshire | City of London | Merseyside | Norfolk | Northamptonshire | Northumberland | North Yorkshire | Nottinghamshire | Oxfordshire | Rutland | Shropshire | Somerset | South Yorkshire | Staffordshire | Suffolk | Surrey | Tyne and Wear | Warwickshire | West Midlands | West Sussex | West Yorkshire | Wiltshire | Worcestershire


de:Devon (England) eo:Devon es:Devon fr:Devon ja:デヴォン州 kw:Dewnans nl:Devon no:Devon pl:Devon pt:Devon simple:Devon


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