Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

Art, History & Archaeology Sites & Museums

Part of Britain’s southwestern peninsula, Devon is the largest county in southern England. Largely rural, it is home to Dartmoor as well as much of Exmoor, both national parks in which various prehistoric structures can be found, among them the Fernworthy and Grey Wethers stone circles. Perhaps Devon’s best-surviving medieval castle is at Berry Pomeroy, while the county also possesses a wealth of medieval churches, including the largely 15th-century Exeter Cathedral. In addition, Devon is known for its large number of stately homes, many of which are open to the public. These reflect various architectural styles, from the neoclassical Arlington Court to the Gothic Revivalist Knightshayes Court. Some of these houses are associated with prominent figures – Greenway House was home to the crime writer Agatha Christie, while Castle Drogo was designed by the architect Edwin Lutyens.

Archaeology & History Sites in Devon

A La Ronde

A striking and unusual 16 sided building completed in 1796. It was built for two cousins, Jane and Mary Parminter, shortly after their return from a Grand Tour of Europe, and is now in the care of the National Trust. The design is said to be based on the Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy. With beautiful views over the surrounding countryside, this is a perfect place to explore some of Devon’s unusual historical treasures and enjoy a cream tea in the garden.

Bartholomew Cemetery Catacombs, Exeter

Located in the Bartholomew Cemetery, the catacombs were built between 1835 and 1837 up against the city walls. The cemetery was the first in Britain to be constructed using public funds. Also, the use of Egyptian style architecture for the entrances is the first instance of Egyptian revivalism in a British cemetery. As a venture, the catacombs were a failure as it was too costly for most. When the cemetery closed in 1946 only 11 people had been interred.

Cathedral Church of Saint Peter at Exeter

The cathedral in the city centre of Exeter is one of the oldest in England. A Norman cathedral was replaced with a Gothic cathedral between 1270 and 1340. The ceiling has the longest unbroken stretch of stone vaulting in the world. There are many fascinating features to look out for inside: a clock said to be that of the children’s song Hickory Dickory Dock, the oldest representation of an elephant in England, an unique minstrels’ gallery.

Cricklepit Mill

Watermills have stood at this spot next to the Roman Wall since 1220 AD. Over the years there have been nine mills in all, including a grist mill for milling grain and a fulling mill for cleaning and strengthening woollen cloth. The surviving mill house was restored in the 1990s by the Devon Historic Buildings Trust, with a hydro-turbine installed in 2010. Electricity produced by the mill powers the visitor centre, which is at the centre of a wildlife garden run by Devon Wildlife Trust.

Custom House, Exeter

With its sweeping staircase and ornate plaster ceilings, Exeter’s Custom House was built in 1680 at the height of the city’s woollen cloth industry. By the 18th century Exeter was one of the busiest ports on the south coast of England. Not surprisingly, the building occupies a prominent position on the historic quayside and now houses a visitors centre that allows visitors to explore over 2,000 years of history at the quay from Roman times to the present.

Exeter Roman & Medieval Wall

Throughout Exeter there are numerous remnants and signs of a city wall. The first stone wall was built by the Romans, sometime during the 2nd century AD, using as its foundations an earth and timber rampart and ditch that surrounded a legionary fortress. With the collapse of the Roman Empire the town was abandoned. It was not until the 10th century that the walls were rebuilt, and again in the 17th century during the English Civil War.


Set on the River Dart estuary, Agatha Christie’s Georgian style holiday home has a huge garden and a wealth of her personal items. Among the objects on display are archaeological artefacts recovered by her second husband, the archaeologist Max Mallowan. Greenway’s boat house features in some of her novels and was also used in some of the popular televised adaptations of her works. With regular events and exhibitions, a cafe and stunning gardens, Greenway makes for a fascinating glimpse into the life of a novelist known across the world as the Queen of Crime.

Kent's Cavern

Kent’s Cavern is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest, for both its archaeology and geology. The Cavern is in fact a large cave system created some two million years ago. Excavations for artefacts and fossils began in the early 1800s. The most celebrated find is a fossil fragment of the UK’s oldest anatomically modern human. Today the caves are one of the top visitor attractions in Torbay, and one that is especially liked by children. A guided tour shows visitors the geological highlights as well as the findspot of the human remains.

The House That Moved

Besides its obvious historical interest, this 16th century house has a fascinating story to tell. The timber framed, early Tudor building was relocated in 1961 from the corner of Edmund Street to allow space for a new inner bypass. Using a network of iron rails, the entire structure was transported on wheels 70 metres to the position it now occupies on West Street. Today the house is a bridal shop but many late medieval features have survived, such as cantilever brackets and a jettied façade.

Tuckers Hall

Now a grade II listed building, Tuckers Hall was built in 1471 and has been owned and used by the Guild of Weavers, Tuckers and Shearmen ever since. The Guild regulated the woollen cloth trade at the hall – an industry which contributed highly to the wealth and reputation of Exeter as a city of international commerce. The interior consists of an upper and lower hall, 17th century wooden panelling, an ornate barrel vaulted ceiling, an interactive exhibition for visitors

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Museums & Art Galleries in Devon

All Hallows Museum, Honiton

Housed in the town’s oldest building, Honiton’s museum opened to the public in November 1946. A fascinating series of exhibits include palaeontology, archaeology and various aspects of the area’s history – with fossils, artefacts and photographs covering some 140 million years. The museum has one of the most extensive collections of Honiton lace, for which the town is well-known, with some pieces dating back to the 16th century. During the summer lace-making demonstrations are popular with visitors to the area.

Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery

Founded as a memorial to Prince Albert, this award-winning museum is one of the finest regional museums in the United Kingdom. Exhibits trace all aspects of Exeter’s and Devon’s history, from more recent times all the way back to the early geological past. Through a series of ingeniously created self-guided tours, from birds to gardens, art to architecture, and of course World War 2, visitors are able to extend their exploration of the wide ranging collections into the city.