Historic Sites of Pembrokeshire


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From prehistoric times, Pembrokeshire has been steeped in History and Myths, for example, did you know that the Bluestones of Stonehenge came from the Preseli Hills? To be precise, an enclosure just over one acre in size, in a small crag-edged enclosure at one of the highest points of the 1,008ft high Carn Menyn mountain in Pembrokeshire’s Preseli Hills. They were then moved 240 miles to the famous site at Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire. Now that’s the history, but the myth is that Merlin the Magician flew them there. Some more examples of Pembrokeshire’s rich history is available below, but why not come to Pembrokeshire yourself and investigate further?

Tudor Merchant’s House - (Tenby). This 15th- century National Trust property is the town’s oldest furnished residence, authentically recreating the style in which a successful merchant of the Tudor age would have lived. The ground-floor chimney at the rear of the house is a fine vernacular example, and the original scarfed roof-trusses survive. The remains of early frescos can be seen on three interior walls and the house is furnished to recreate family life from the Tudor period onwards. There is access to the small herb garden, weather permitting. It is virtually on the doorstep of the FBM Holidays headquarters.

Carew Cheriton Control Tower – Less than a mile from Carew  Castle, at Carew Cheriton, is a recreated RAF control tower. The airfield here saw active service in the Second World War. Operational flying commenced in April 1939 with the arrival of the target towing flight with their Hawker Henleys. They were followed in the summer of that year with the first of many Costal Command squadrons that were to use Carew Cheriton – 217 equipped with the Avro Anson During the first year of operational use take-off and landings were by means of a grass strip, and this proved to be difficult during periods of wet weather. A number of aircraft came to grief as a result of these conditions. Accommodation for the ground crew was under canvas while the air crew were billeted out to the seaside resort of Tenby. Construction of three concrete runways commenced in the summer of 1940 and it was early 1941 before these were completed with their taxiways. During its time as a Costal Command airfield Carew Cheriton came under the control of 15 group based at Plymouth. A transfer to Technical Training Command took place in October 1942. The airfield finally closed in November 1945.

St David’s Cathedral. The most religious monument in Wales, dedicated to the principality’s patron saint, St David who was born in the year 500, the son of St Non and a prince of Ceredigion.  Legend states that Non gave birth to him on a cliff top during a violent storm. The present cathedral stands on the site of the monastery he founded in the inhospitable area known as ‘Glyn Rhosyn.’  David and his followers lived a simple life; they refrained from eating meat or drinking beer.  David’s symbol, now a national symbol of Wales, is the leek. and built on a secluded site chosen for the original 6th-century church. Legend has it that the church was purposely built in a dip to shelter it from the marauding Vikings as they sailed round the coastline to attack Ireland  Much of the cathedral as it stands today dates from the late 12th century and has been extended and altered over the centuries, and the cloisters have been restored only recently. Food is served in the refectory and there is a Cloister Gallery.

Tenby Castle/Town Walls – Only a small tower remains of Tenby Castle, perched on top of Castle Hill, which is almost surrounded by the sea. The old town walls, however, are remarkably complete, containing a maze of narrow streets that make up the picturesque old town of Tenby. The castle was built by The Normans in the 12th century.There is a record of its capture by the Welsh in 1153.Tenby was also attacked in 1187 and again in 1260, when Llewellyn the Last, sacked the town during his campaigns. Most of the town walls were built in the 13th century. In 1328, the D-shaped barbican was added to defend the gate.D-shaped towers north and south of the gate were also added at this time. In 1457, the moat, which ran outside the walls where St Florence Parade is now, was widened to 30ft, the walls were heightened and a second, higher series of arrow slits was built, reached by a new parapet walk. In 1648, a unit of Royalist rebels held the castle for 10 weeks but were starved into surrendering.

St Govan’s Chapel. This tiny and remarkable building is hidden in a fissure in the cliffs of St Govan’s Head, close to the car park. It nestles at the bottom of narrow stone steps and occupies the site of a 5th-century hermit’s cell, though the age of the chapel is unknown. However, myth rears its head again and legend states that this was in fact the abode of Sir Gawain when King Arthur died, one of the Knights of the Round Table. Interestingly enough another legend alleges that the nearby Bosherton Lily Ponds is the site of the Lady of the Lake, who gave King Arthur his sword, Excalibur. Add to that the legend that Merlin actually came from Carmarthen, and you can see that King Arthur and his Knights had a lot to do with Pembrokeshire.

Lamphey Bishop’s Palace. The Bishops Palace at Lamphey, although a shadow of its former glory is still imposing in its presence with many ghostly happenings reported within the palace grounds. Once an extravagant country retreat for the Bishops of St Davids, the stone remnants visible today were once great halls and chapels dating from the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries.What we see today is mainly the work of the dynamic Henry de Gower, the bishop of St Davids from 1328 to 1347. Thanks to his vision, elegant Lamphey became the ‘away from it all’ palace for high-ranking members of the clergy keen to play at being country gentlemen. Fortunately, The Bishops Palace is today managed and maintained by the Welsh historic buildings organization CADW. The Lamphey Bishops Palace is open to visitors year round, with regular guided tours available, along with convenient parking and toilet facilities.

Please note: – The above is but a very tiny fraction of the historic sites and places throughout Pembrokeshire, and with dolmens and other neolithic sites, Vikings, Normans and French(did you know the last place to be invaded in Britain was Fishguard between 22 February and 24 February 1797 by French troops?), to the history of WWII that makes Pembrokeshire an ideal historic holiday destination with FBM Holidays, the premier self-catering agency, your first choice for a fabulous holiday.

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