Manylion y Safle

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Pembroke Castle is a vast medieval fortress occupying the point of a cliff-girt promontory between two tidal inlets reaching in from Milford Haven. The castle was established by the Normans in about 1094. Finds of Roman coins may signal an earlier settlement. The castle remained largely an earthwork structure until the beginning of the thirteenth century when the circular great tower was built. Over the next century the castle's two wards or courts were enclosed by strong walls and towers. The town walls were also built in this period (see NPRN 300446). The castle was slighted following the Civil War siege of 1648 and was restored to its present condition in the later nineteenth-earlier twentieth century.

At the heart of the castle is the great tower, largely intact save for its floors and unrestored. It rears up to 24.6m high culminating in a vaulted roof and two tier battlements. The tower was much imitated in south-west Wales, for example at Benton, Manobier, Tenby and Llawhaden. The ruins of palatial apartments stand in the small inner ward in the shadow of the great tower. Below these is the Wogan, a natural cavern fortified with the castle. The walls of the small inner ward are mostly reduced to footings, but the great outer wall with its five towers and great gatehouse, has been largely restored and rebuilt and presents a brave face to the visitor.
In the medieval period mill dams held back the waters of the inlets either side of the castle and walled town. This arrangement seems to have been copied at Manobier Castle.

Sources: Cobb in Archaeologia Cambrensis 4th series 14 (1883), 196-220, 264-273
Cathcart-King in Archaeologia Cambrensis 127 for 1978 (1979), 75-121
Ludlow in Fortress 8 (1991), 25-30

John Wiles, RCAHMW, 4 December 2007

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