Exeter was the most south-westerly Roman fortified settlement in Britain. Exeter became a religious centre during the Middle Ages and into the Tudor times: Exeter Cathedral, founded in the mid 11th century, became Anglican during the 16th-century English Reformation. During the late 19th century, Exeter became an affluent centre for the wool trade, although by the First World War the city was in decline. After the Second World War, much of the city centre was rebuilt and is now considered to be a centre for modern business and tourism in Devon and Cornwall.
The modern name of Exeter is a development of the Old EnglishEscanceaster, from the anglicised form of the river now known as the Exe and the Old English suffix-ceaster, used to mark important fortresses or fortified towns. (The Welsh name for the city, Caerwysg, similarly means "fortress on the Exe".) The name "Exe" is a separate development of the Brittonic name—meaning "water" or, more exactly, "full of fish" (cf. Welshpysg, pl. "fish")—that also appears in the EnglishAxe and Esk and the WelshUsk (Welsh: Wysg).