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Pembroke Castle

Pembroke is one of the mightiest and most impressive castles in Wales, not Welsh, but purely Norman. It was never captured from the original invaders in four hundred years of struggle. The site is a rocky headland sticking out into the Pembroke River, controlling entry into the Haven and in a dominating position over the low-lying peninsula. Later, it became all-important as the setting-out point for the invasion and control of Ireland. With its vast circular keep standing over seventy feet high and walls that are more than 19 feet thick at its base, surrounded by an inner and outer ward with thick walls, towers and an impressive gate-house, Pembroke was considered one of the safest strongholds in all Wales.

History of Pembroke Castle

1093 - The forces of Roger de Montgomery, the major Norman invader of Wales, arrives at Pembroke and his son, Arnulf builds a simple "fortress of stakes and turf", cutting off and controlling the headland.

1096 - A Welsh army lays siege to Pembroke Castle. The castle's constable Garald de Windsor, with just four pigs to his entire meat ration for the garrison, pretends he has supplies to last for months. He orders the carcasses to be thrown over the walls at the besiegers and writes a letter suggesting that he needs no reinforcements for at least four months and has this letter dropped where it would be found. Upon finding this letter the Welsh abandon their siege. (more in the History section)

Text by Fred Vincent