The wider landscape also makes a significant contribution to the area’s unique character. An intricate pattern of fields, heaths, woods, lanes, hamlets and villages has been formed by centuries of human activity and management.
The landscape of steep hillsides with flatter land around provided our ancestors with good vantage points from which to protect their communities. We can see evidence of this at Culmstock Beacon, Castle Neroche, and the Iron Age hillforts at Hembury and Dumpdon.
Iron working was an important industry in the Roman period and continued into the Middle Ages. Evidence of iron working can still be found to this day.
The area’s medieval history is evident in a significant number of medieval buildings which still stand to this day, and in the distinctive field patterns established in this era.
The Wellington Monument stands tall on the Blackdown Hills northern ridge, a homage to the late, great Duke of Wellington. The former estate of Otterhead House (1845-1952) has been transformed nature reserve around the two remaining Otterhead Lakes.
The Blackdown Hills AONB also contains important evidence from the Second World War that has left a visible impact on the landscape. Three airfields were constructed, Culmhead (Trickey Warren), Dunkeswell and Upottery (Smeatharpe). As well as the run-ways, a wide range of structures survive at all three sites, including defensive pillboxes, aircraft dispersal pens, technical and domestic buildings.