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The earliest surviving physical evidence of Christianity in Devon is slight. Exeter Cathedral Close contains a very early Christian cemetery, and there are some 'Dark Age' memorial stones in the north and west of the county, and some Saxon cross shafts in the east. However, the dedication of many churches to 'Celtic' saints indicates an early and widespread adoption of the Christian faith.
Archaeological evidence from Exeter's Cathedral Close suggests that a religious community continued from the late Roman into the Saxon period. Devon had some 30 medieval monastic houses. The remains of these are mostly fragmentary, but the County's 600 parish churches are one of the most important components of its historic heritage. Most of these were built or rebuilt in the perpendicular style in the 15th or early 16th centuries, although many contain elements of earlier structures.
Few new churches were built after the Reformation until the later 19th century when not only were many new, usually urban, churches erected, but most of the rural medieval churches were heavily restored.
Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries the rise in nonconformism led to the extensive construction of chapels in both town and country so that the County now has an outstanding inheritance of these buildings.