Roman Devon

Devon contains much evidence of the Roman conquest in around AD50 and the Romano-British era that lasted until around AD410 or beyond. The focus, then and now, is Exeter with its 1st century AD legionary fortress and subsequent walled town – the regional administrative and commercial centre of Isca Dumnoniorum. Outside Exeter there are many strategically sited Roman army camps, forts and fortlets, such as the fort at Tiverton and concentration of bases at North Tawton. Fragments of the imperial road system also survive, particularly in East, Mid and West Devon.

Gold aureus of the Emperor Vespasian, found in Exeter. Photo: Reproduced by kind permission of the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Exeter. A few villas, such as Holcombe near Uplyme, tell of the ‘Romanisation’ of the local elite. However, enclosed settlements of farmstead scale, much like their Iron Age predecessors, lasted throughout the Roman period. There is also evidence of some larger Romano-British rural settlements, often sited beside Roman roads and at former fort sites such as Axminster. A major upsurge in Iron production on the Blackdown Hills and the Exmoor fringe, the quarrying of roofing slate and Beer Stone, together with finds from around the county of Roman coins, metal goods, imported and locally manufactured pottery and ceramic building materials, demonstrate how Devon, although at the far western edge of the empire, had become integrated into its economy.

Find out more about these sites by viewing the Devon Historic Environment Record.