The history of Devon is rich and diverse, with a particular emphasis on the River Tamar and Saxon archaeology that surrounds it. This stunning region in Southwest England has witnessed centuries of human habitation and bears the marks of ancient civilizations. Historians are drawn to Devon for its intriguing past, uncovering fascinating tales of conquest, trade, and cultural exchange along the Tamar River. The traces of Saxon settlements, burial mounds, and artifacts discovered in the area shed light on the lives and customs of these early inhabitants, providing valuable insights into their society.
Exploring Devon's history along the River Tamar unveils a captivating narrative of human existence, spanning back to prehistoric times. Evidence of Saxon settlement can be seen in the form of burial sites and remnants of settlements, offering glimpses into the lives of these early settlers. The river itself played a crucial role in facilitating trade and communication, serving as a pathway for boats and ships that transported goods and connected communities along its banks. Devon's rich cultural heritage, intertwined with the Tamar and its surrounding landscapes, continue to captivate historians and reveal the remarkable stories of those who came before us.
Until the conveniency of the haven which without striking sail admitteth into its bosom the tallest ships that be where they ridesafe in either of the two rivers ,to take the opportunity of the first wind.
Stuart Amos Arnold published an eighteenth-century navigation called
The Merchant and Seaman’s Guardian in the British Channel.
In it he gave detailed instructions to navigate into the port using the ancient system of seamarks -
lining up landmarks by eye to chart a course through and past hazards In sailing into Plymouth take care of the Shovel and Tinker rocks ; on the former is sixteen, on the latter seventeen feet.
The mark to sail in clear of them , is to keep Plymouth old church just open to the west of the citadel wall , sail in with this mark till you bring Withy hedge right up and down, and Drake’s island North West or open Mount Edgecombe , when you may anchor in six and seven fathom of coarse sand If bound for Hamoaze , take care of the Winter Rock on which there is a beacon that lies between Drake’s Island and the main landGo between the rock and east part of the islan, and give the island a good birth To clear the German Rock, which lies about two thirds of a cable’s length from the shore , and has a beacon on it ,as soon as you are abreast of the rock , which you will know by running the stone wall on Block-house point right up and down ,
steer over towards Mount Edgecombe till you open the Passagepoint and Blockhouse point; then haul over for Stone-pool , till you have hid Drake’s island behind Block-house point.
And to clear Passage-rock , there is beacon on it bring Stone-house on the Old Gunwharf crane ; run that mark on till you bring a large fall-gate gate ,that is on the hill above the Passagehouse , and the highest chimnies on the Passage-house in one ; then steer safely in for Hamoaze , and anchor in thirteen, fourteen, or fifteen fathom, or less water at pleasure.
These directions give a glimpse into a lost landscape, where patches of willow were significant enough to be landmarks visible from the Sound.
Once moored, what might the merchant expect on arrival ? A number of travel writers described seventeenth-century Plymouth, among them Celia Fiennes in her epic journey Through England on a Side Saddle in the Time of William and Mary in 1698.
She was delighted by the appearance of the local stone , which she referred to as ‘marble’ which made Plympton ‘look white like snow’.From there she rode down the banks of the River Plym to the town itself.
Plymouth is two parishes called the old town and the new, the houses all built of this marble and the slatt [slate] at the top look like lead and glisters in the sun; there are no great houses in the town; the streets OH! are good and clean, there is a great many though some are narrow ; they are mostly inhabited by seamen and those whichhave altaiies on the sea, for here up to the town there is a depth of water for shipps of the first rate to ride ;
its great sea and dangerous
History of Devonshire. their residence at Warleigh. The heiress of the Folio!! » brought it to the Gorges, and from them it passed, by female heirs, to Bonvile, Coplestone, and Bampfylde . For some century and a half it has been the seat of the Radcliffes. The Coplestone oak, which stood on the grim by the church, was the traditional scene of a murder by one of the Coplestones, the ‘ fatal oak ? of Mrs. Bray's ‘Warleigh.’ Gilbert Foliott, successively Abbot of Gloucester, Bishop of Hereford (1149), and Bishop of London (1161 ), was a native of Tamerton. One of the most learned men of his day, he was also a steady opponent of A Becket, and was excommunicated by that primate and the Pope accordingly, but relieved by a synod which he called. He held the See of London twenty years.Maristow in this parish, the seat of Sir Massey Lopes, was the site of the ancient chapel of St. Martin (whence the name) belonging to the canons of Plympton. After the Dissolution it came to the Champernownes, who sold it in 1550 to John Slanning of Shaugh. Thence it descended with the rest of the Slanning estates, and was bought by Sir Masseh Manasseh Lopes in 1798. It seems probable that Maristow was the chapel of St. Martin de Blakestane (the next Domesday manor to Tamerton), held by the Priory temp. Henry I., and given by Paganel. It is also said to have been the gift of William de Pin and his daughter Sibella.
PLYMOUTH, DEVONPORT, AND STONEHOUSE. I'm recorded history of Plymouth cannot be traced much In (her than the Norman Conquest. The town finds no mention in the ‘ Saxon Chronicle.’ Risdon, indeed, citing the life of St. Indractus, tells us that by the Saxons it was named Tamarweorth , which is much more likely, if the reference has any historic value, to be the Saxon name of what is now Drake’s Island — ‘ the Island of the Tamar.’ Leland also asserts that much of what afterwards came to be called Plymouth was held by the canons of the ancient Saxon college of Plympton, which Bishop Warelwast made the foundation of the famous Plympton Priory. But these statements have no authority ; and the earliest undoubted and distinct mention we have til Plymouth is as the Sutton of ‘ Domesday,’ held by William in succession to the Confessor, an insignificant manor, with an enumerated population of 7 only. It was many a long year after this that the manor was granted by the Crown to the Valletorts, and by them in part to the monks of Plympton ; and that mainly by the fostering care of the prior and his brethren, though largely as the result of independent effort, the foundations of the chief centre of population of the West were laid.“ Domesday “ affords the materials for a striking comparison between past and present, The eight manors as t
The Saltash corporation has jurisdiction over the waters of "Plymouth Sound" and its tributaries , and derives a considerable revenue from the buoys which it maintains there in .
The Roman road , proceeding west from Exeter is a branch of the lcenhilde Way , crossed ' the Tamar at this point ; and the “ Statio Tamara ” of the Itineraries was no doubt at King ’s Tamerton , immediately above the river, on the Devonshire side.
The right of ferry at Saltash was granted by the Black Prince , as Duke of Cornwall, during his delay at Plymouth in 1355 to a soldier who had been wounded in the French wars. See Sir Nicolas’s Hist, of Navy). An excursion up the Tamar, as far as the Weir-head , and Morwell Rock's is one of the most interesting in the county. Saltash is known for its fishermen, but more so for its fishwomen, who are celebrated for their prowess at the oar, and not unfrequently bear away the prizes at the different regattas.
It was an ancient borough previous to the Reform Bill
ST. GERMANSAugustinian was the seat of a bishop in early times.Thebishops of the Celtic churcheswere not hke those of the English; their sphere influence was not defined in the same way.In Ireland a bishop often lived in a monastic settlement and was inferior in rank to Abbot.In Cornwall the Bishop of St. Germans was probably the head of a monastery.Whether his jurisdiction extended over the whole of modern Cornwall, or whether there were not other bishops—at Bodmin, for instance—in the quite early days, is not clear. The first bishop who is named is one Conan, in AthelStan’s time (in 936), but he will not have been actually the first. The laSt was Burhwold. In 1050 the old See of St. Germans was united with Exeter by Edward the Confessor, and Bishop Leofric, who had formerly had Crediton for his See, moved thither. He is said to have placed canons in St. Germans.But it was Bartholomew, Bishop of Exeter in Henry II’s time, who made it a Priory of AuguStinian Canons.So it continued till the Suppression, when its annual value was somewhat under £250.The church has a certain cathedral flavour about it, in that it has two western towers; one is Norman, with an oCtagonal top of the thirteenth century.The other, the southern, has Norman base and Perpendicular upper Storey.Between them is a fine late Norman door.The nave has two Norman piers on the south side, and a Norman font is in the south tower.The original north aisle was pulled down in 1803 and replaced by the pew of the Eliots—the house of Port Eliot is immediately beside the church. The description in the Beauties of "England and Wales (Britton and Bray- ley; this volume was issued in 1801) is rather unwontedly minute and careful.I will quote a good part of it, and the visitor may be interested in comparing it with what he sees now. After describing the western arch it says : “ Over the arch is a pediment with a cross at the top resembling an heraldic cross patee within a circle; on each side is a small pointed window, and above these are three small narrow round-headed windows. [Above these is the main western gable.]“ The north aisle is divided from the nave by five short thick round columns, each connected with a half-pillar opposite to it in the north wall, by a low surbased arch.All the capitals of the columns are square, and curiously ornamented with Saxon (i.e. Norman) sculpture. The third from the weSt end is embellished with grotesque figures having bodies resembling dogs, opposed to each other, with their fore parts meeting at the angle of the capital in one head ;the upper part human, but the lower like a scollop-shell.Above these range six plain arches, some of them apparently of the same age and Style with those in the nave of St. Alban’s Abbey Church, Hertfordshire.“ In several windows of the aisle are a few coats of arms on painted glass.“ The architecture of the south aisle is very dissimilar from that on the
The site of Calstock Roman Fort probably dating from the 1st century AD.
This is only the third Roman fort to have been found in Cornwall and the first with possible associations with Roman military interests in Cornwall's mineral resources.
The site is located on a spur above the river Tamar near to St. Andrew's church
in the parish of Calstock, Cornwall.
It was found accidently by a team from Exeter University, as part of the larger Bere Ferrers Project,
investigating the development of medieval silver mines in this area.
A geophysical survey in 2007 revealed the outline of a Roman fort enclosed by two ramparts and two ditches.
A number of anomalies were also revealed which may be associated with Roman metalworking. In 2008 a trial trench was excavated on the site which revealed details of the fort's defences. The fort measures circa 170m by 160m,
with an internal area of circa 140m by 130m (1.82 hectares). This is much larger than the other two known Roman forts in Cornwall; Nanstallon (Monument Number 431370) and Restormel (Monument Number 432777). Two ramparts and ditches were uncovered.
The outer rampart is approximately five metres wide and is constructed of clay and shillet from the digging of the ditches. The sides of the rampart were held together with timbers on both faces.
Two ditches were uncovered between the inner and outer rampart with characteristic v-shaped profiles and square-cut bases which is typical of Roman military sites.
They were 2.8m deep and approximately 3.5m wide. The outer rampart was also approximately five metres wide and the investigations show that it was capped with large sandstone rubble on the western and southern sides of the fort. Just outside this rampart a stone-lined furnace structure was excavated.
Finds from it included Roman pottery, fragments of furnace lining and some ore and slag which suggest that Roman metalworking was taking place in the 1st century AD.
A track leading into the fort was also identified.
we should perhaps take into account the curious fact that the Civitas Dumnoniorum ; basically the Cornish peninsula west of Exeter , appears to have been a part of Britain virtually unaffected by those changes to élite behaviour usually termed ‘romanisation’. Is it possible that much of it lay outside provincial or diocesan control and that some kind of border was depicted on the Cosmographer’s map source as separating the south-western peninsula from the rest of Britain? In that case, Isca Dumnoniorum may have been prominent as a point of contact between the wilds of the far south-west and the more ‘civilised’ Durotriges (or Durotrages, following RIB 1673: the form of the name is very uncertain according to Rivet & Smith to the east.
Group 1: the Cornish Peninsula , in qua britania plurimas fuisse ciuitates et castra legimus ex quibus aliquantas designare uolumus id est:
Giano Barnstaple 10546 Eltabo River Taw 10546 Elconio River Torridge 10547
Nemestotatio North Tawton 10547
Tamari Launceston ? 10548 maybe know the plymouth isca and geography change , add 2 plympton and tamerton foliot
Puro coronauis ? 10548Pilais ? 10549Vernilis Liskeard ? 10549Ardua rauenatone River Dart 10550Deuionisso Statio ? 10551deuentia steno Buckfastleigh / Totnes ? 10551/10552Duriarno Plymouth 10552Vxelis Barnstaple? 1061Verteuia Land’s End 1061 = 1069This group appears to take us on a general perambulation of the Cornish Peninsula and adjacent area*Taua, the second name, is clearly the River Taw .*Nemetostatio is probably the fort at North Tawton, which is in an area where a group of modern names containing the elementsNymetandNemetare found .The identification of*Conio*with Ptolemy’s must therefore be questioned as the general progression seems to be from north-east to southwest.It may refer theRiver Torridge, although this is a Celtic name, derived from a Brittonic *Torric-, ‘violent, rough’.*Glano*should therefore be somewhere in north Devon, perhaps in the vicinity of Barnstaple.Tamaris, this a site on the River Tamar , perhaps at the crossing at Launceston , not the river itself , as the name recurs in the list of river-names . *Durocornouio* and *Pilais*Britannia in the Ravenna Cosmography: a reassessment K J Fitzpatrick-Matthews15
cannot now be identified. Charles Thomas (1966a, 87) originally identified the former with The Rumps, a pre-Roman defended enclosure.More recently, he suggested that it might be Tintagel, the site of an important sub-Roman trading settlement, although its Romano-British status is not clear . *Vernilis* may be the , perhaps near Liskeard ; the correct RomanoBritish form may have been *Verleua.The Cosmographer’s form would have arisen by way of a transposition of-l-and -u-, the latter being miscopied as -n-.The next name must be for * Deruentione, the River Dart, so the Cosmographer’s eye may have moved from travelling along the spine of Cornwall, following the poorly known road along the centre of the peninsula, and he has possibly now turned his attention to the road south from Exeter, closer to the south Devon coast.Deuionisso Statio and *Deruentio Statio (which are wrongly divided in the text) are probably unlocated Roman government establishments, perhaps tax offices. The latter may have lain in the Dart valley (Dart being Brittonic *Deruentiu: Ekwall 1928, 114), perhaps at Buckfastleigh or Totnes, and the former perhaps near Newton Abbot or elsewhere on the River Teign. The next name, Duriarno, is probably not the same as Durnouaria (Dorchester), as suggested by Rivet & Smith (1979, 345) following Horsley (1732, 490), since it is probably not corrupt (compare the Arnodurum quoted by Williams (Richmond & Crawford 1949, 32), which shows the more usual ‘continental’ ordering of elements). Instead, it may be the name of a site in the vicinity of Plymouth where the inhumation cemetery at Mount Batten and a sequence of coins attest a settlement of some importance (Thomas 1966a, 86). Uxelis is too far west to be the same as Ptolemy’s Οὔξελλα (II.3, 13), which must be on the River Parrett, his Οὐεξάλλα εἴσχυσις (II.3,2), and may be a site or river in Cornwall, perhaps the Fowey or the Fal, unless it is an example of a name written to the west of its symbol on the map source. If this is the case, then it may have been near Barnstaple (Strang 1997, 30). Group 2: the south Devon and Cornish coast Melamoni Sidford ? 1062 = 1064/1069/10613 Scadumnamorum Exeter ,TermoninMesteuia -Land’s EndThe mention of Moridunum, Sidford , for the first time indicates a change of direction, and there are now hints of an ordering of names with a general progression from east to west. The -l- for -r- in Moridunum is also found in the next section; it may be that the name was very difficult to read in the Cosmographer’s source. It is unlikely to have occurred as a result of misreading two separate documents, further evidence for the essential unity of the Cosmographer’s sources. The unlocated *Terminum would have been somewhere between Exeter and Land’s End, an admittedly imprecise location. The River Gowy in Cheshire was formerly known as the aqua de Tervin (‘water of Tarvin’) in 1209, the name deriving from the Latin terminus, ‘boundary’, via Welsh Terfyn (Dodgson 1970, 26), which has been retained by a large parish and village. Although the origin of the latter name is generally sought in the post-Roman politics of the region (Bu’Lock 1972, 24), it is probable that the River Gowy was the eastern boundary of the prata legionis of the fortress at Chester. Could a similar origin be suggested for this name, at the western boundary of the prata legionis of the early fortress at Exeter or the territorium of the later capital of the CivitasDumnoniorum?
Somerset Milidunum SidfordApaunaris BathMasona Camerton? 1065Alouergium Shepton Mallett 1065The Cosmographer returns to Moridunum, with the same peculiar -l-for -r-as in the previous group, and a similarly logical ordering of names this time jumping north-eastward and then working back to the starting-point identifyApaunariswithAquae Sulis, Bath, perhaps correctly, so the two remaining names may relate to sites between Bath and Sidford.<Masona> suggests a name derived from that of a river, although which cannot now be ascertained; it perhaps refers to the small town at Camerton. The name is corrupt. *Alobergium should be in a hilly location, probably near the Mendip Hills at Shepton Mallett, where parts of a Romano-British small town have recently been identified.