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 BCE, they later cleared much of the oak forest, which regenerated as moor. Dartmoor was not extensively ploughed during the of the first and second Millenniums, and therefore contains the remains of the oldest known buildings in England.
The name "Devon" derives from the Celtic people who inhabited the south western peninsula of Britain at the time of the Roman invasion, the Dumnonii. In 823 the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records the "Defnas" (Devonians) as fighting against the "Wealas" (literally foreigners or strangers) in Cornwall. Later William of Malmesbury claimed "that the Britons and Saxons inhabited Exeter aequo jure" ("as equals") in 927. Nineteenth century studies suggested that a significant ethnic Celtic element remains in the local population, and this has been confirmed by DNA analysis in the late twentieth century. By the ninth century, however, the major threat to Saxon domination of Devon came not from the Cornish but from Viking raiders, and sporadic incursions continued until the Norman Conquest.
Devon has featured in most of the civil conflicts in England since the Norman conquest. William the Conqueror besieged Exeter for eighteen days; both Exeter and Plympton were held against King Stephen in 1140; there were local skirmishes during the Wars of the Roses; Perkin Warbeck besieged Exeter in 1497; the Prayer Book Rebellion of 1549 was largely a Devon affair; and Exeter and Dartmouth were both besieged during 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. Tin was found largely on Dartmoor's granite heights, and copper in the areas around it. In the eighteenth century Devon Great Consols mine (near Tavistock) was believed to be the largest copper mine in the world.
Devon is also known for its mariners, such as Sir Francis Drake, Gilbert, Sir Richard Grenville and Sir Walter Raleigh. Plymouth Hoe is famous as the location where Drake continued to play bowls after hearing that the Spanish Armada had been sighted.
famous for: surfing, Exmoor
famous sons and residents: Sir Francis Drake, Sir Walter Raleigh
interesting fact: Devon is the only county in England to have 2 coasts
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