Dartmouth is an ancient borough with a history of settlement going back to prehistoric ages. In early times, when marauders of all sorts ravaged the coast, towns were placed some distance inland, safe from raids, and so it was that the first occupancy was at Townstal, at the top of the hill. As trade grew and the danger from attack lessened, towns were built at the mouths of rivers; thus in the 11th century, two fishing hamlets sprang up at the mouth of the River Dart. One called Hardness, and the other called Clifton-Dartmouth. These were the humble beginnings of the Dartmouth of today.
Much of the lower part of the town, from the river bank inland as far as the Guildhall, has been reclaimed from the river in various stages since medieval times. There are clues to this in some of the street names, such as Ford, King`s Quay, Vavasour`s Slip, etc. The most recently reclaimed section is Coronation Park, which was completed in 1937.