The spring-line mires of the Blackdown Hills are proving to be an important resource for reconstructing past environments. Peat deposits from these sites can date back to prehistoric times and the preserved pollen records changes from woodland to pastoral and arable farming.
The density of flint and chert tools found particularly in the parishes of Stockland and Membury indicate that this area was an important source of food and raw materials for Mesolithic people. Findings of flint from Neolithic times, such as flint axes, along with the presence of causewayed enclosures at Hembury and Membury, indicate continuing settlement and exploitation of local resources.
There is also an important and visible range of later prehistoric evidence. The Bronze Age round barrow cemeteries on Brown Down and Dunkeswell Turbary and many isolated barrows on the greensand ridge tops are distinctive landmarks. 10 of the Blackdown Hills AONB’s Scheduled Ancient Monuments are Bronze Age barrows or barrow cemeteries.
A Roman fort has been identified within the hillfort at Hembury. At Whitestaunton there are remains of a Roman villa (or Romanised farm) with a luxurious bath-house (now a Scheduled Ancient Monument). Other Romanised farms existed at Membury and probably Woonton in Chardstock.
Iron working was an important industry in the Roman period and continued into the Middle Ages.