World War Two pillbox

Torcross

Hallsands abandoned fishing village

History in the landscape

Thurlestone VillageEverywhere you go in the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), you get a real feeling of 'time depth'.

The history is not just found at special sites and monuments, it is woven into the very fabric of the landscape.

  • The whole shape of the agricultural landscape – its small fields, hedges, remnant orchards and scattering of farmsteads and hamlets – has been formed over 3,000 years.
  • There is a rich maritime and military legacy of coastal forts, castles, lighthouses, day marks, harbours, lookouts, coastguard cottages, airstrips and aerial masts, spanning from the Iron Age to the Cold War.
  • Ancient drove roads, ridge roads, sunken green lanes, hedges and turnpike roads, with their highway 'furniture' of milestones, toll houses and bridges, wind their way through the landscape.
  • Historic building styles using local stone, thatch, slate and cob are seen in field barns, labourers’ terraces, farmsteads and villages.
  • Big landed estates have left a pattern of parkland, large houses, lodges, carriage drives, distinctive estate villages and alms houses.
  • Rivers and estuaries have their own special heritage of mills, lime kilns, quays, fishponds, weirs and ships’ hulks.

Find out more

Our 'Historic environment summary of the AONB' gives an overview of the area’s heritage and features and can be downloaded from the right of this page.

Downloadable fact sheets

We have produced a series of short illustrated downloadable fact sheets homing in on the heritage features special to our area.

Blackdown Rings Iron Age Hillfort

Our special features
The areas covered include:

  • Field patterns and boundaries
  • Parish churches
  • Coastal fortifications
  • Lime kilns
  • Hillforts
  • Historic estuaries
  • Harbours and highway history

Telling the story
We also have factsheets covering the prehistoric stages in human occupation of the AONB:

  • Earlier prehistory - Palaeolothic to Neolithic
  • Later prehistory - Bronze Age to Romano-British

For the enthusiast and local history group
If you want to hunt out original historic documents, maps and archives, we have a listing of the sources and where to find them.

  • Audit of Historic Sources

Parish by parish
We commissioned a series of parish heritage appraisals from historian Robert Waterhouse – providing a brief snapshort of how parishes developed through time.

  • Charleton Parish Heritage Appraisal
  • East Portlemouth Parish Heritage Appraisal
  • Slapton Parish Heritage Appraisal
  • Stokenham Parish Heritage Appraisal

The AONB in prose, verse and song
Local historian Valerie Belsey prepared a factsheet for us, exploring how authors through the centuries have written about the AONB and been inspired by it.

  • Lines in the landscape – writing in and about the AONB