Castles Of Pembrokeshire

View of Carew Castle from the gatehouse side

Last weekend #ourmanwhocan and I took a few hours off to go and visit two of our favourite castles.

Pembrokeshire is home to some of the most beautiful and impressive castles in all of the UK. With a history spanning centuries, these castles are a testament to the region’s past and a reminder of its unique cultural heritage. From the powerful towers of Pembroke Castle to the romantic ruins of Manorbier, there is something special to be found at each of these majestic sites.

The earliest castles in Pembrokeshire date back to the 12th century, when the Normans invaded and constructed a number of strategic fortifications. Carew Castle and Pembroke Castle are two of the most prominent examples of these Norman fortifications and are still considered to be some of the best-preserved castles in the UK.


Pembroke Castle at the end of Pembroke's Main Street
Pembroke Castle at the end of Pembroke’s Main Street

Pembroke Castle is a medieval castle in the town of Pembroke. The castle was originally built in 1093 by the Norman lord Arnulf de Montgomery, and it has since been used as a royal residence, a military stronghold, and a prison. It was the birthplace of Henry Tudor who later became King Henry VII of

England. The castle is now open to visitors and offers guided tours, a museum, and a range of activities. It is a Grade I listed building and a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

Statue of Henry Tudor with Pembroke Castle in the background
Statue of Henry Tudor with Pembroke Castle in the background

We combined a visit here with a walk around the Mill pond. We watched the swans and ducks for a while and then walked back along the main street, doing a little window shopping on the way. A lovely accessible walk, mainly on the flat. Totally suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs.


Carew Castle showing the Elizabethan Windows
Carew Castle showing the Elizabethan Windows

Carew Castle is arguably the most iconic of Pembrokeshire’s castles. This Norman fortress was built in the 12th century and is set in a beautiful location overlooking the River Cleddau estuary. The castle features a circular keep, a great hall, and a drawbridge. It also boasts a fascinating history, having been home to a number of notable Welsh families, including the Carew family who owned it until the 18th century. Carew Castle was originally built as a defensive fortification, but was later converted into a luxurious manor house. The impressive series of Elizabethan windows were added by Sir John Perrot who may or may not have been fathered by Henry VIII.

Here we bought ourselves a takeaway brew from the newly opened castle tea rooms. We walked around the edge of the tidal lagoon that Carew sits on. We also popped our head into the French Tidal Mill that sits on the causeway and there is an excellent pathway around it which is suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs.

Both Carew and Pembroke Castle have an entry fee and run various theatrical and musical events during the year. However, a very cost effective day out was had by just walking around the outside, admiring their splendour and watching the birds on the adjacent water.


Manorbier from the air courtesy of the castle management team

Manorbier Castle is another impressive castle in Pembrokeshire. This 12th-century castle was built by Odo de Barri, a Norman knight granted land there in return for his help in conquering Pembrokeshire. Today, visitors can explore the ruins of the castle, including the gatehouse and the remains of the great hall. It is also set in a beautiful location, surrounded by lush green fields and a stunning beach.

Arguably this is one of the most romantic castles. Weddings take place here regularly and it has its own chapel. Also being so close to the beach it is ideal to combine a visit with a sandcastle building competition of your own.

The Landsker Line

The majority of castles in Pembrokeshire are built along The Landsker Line. This is an old boundary line that was once used to divide the area of South Pembrokeshire, where the Flemish settled after the Norman invasions, from the rest of Wales. The name Landsker possibly derived from a Viking term for a border or division or another word from the old dialects of Cornwall. The Norman lords of Pembroke and Carmarthen were known to use this boundary to settle disputes between them, often being settled by the nearest castle. The settlement by the Flemish left a lasting and unique legacy. The Landsker Line has now became a cultural boundary, and is still seen today as a distinct division between the predominantly English-speaking areas of South West Pembrokeshire and north and east of the line where Welsh can be heard spoken on a daily basis.

These are just three outstanding examples of these mediaeval structures in Pembrokeshire. Others can be found in Haverfordwest, Kidwelly, Narberth, Picton, Llawhaden and Cilgerran. The castles in Pembrokeshire are a reminder of the region’s long and vibrant history, and a visit to any of these sites is sure to be a memorable experience. Whether you are looking for a daytrip destination, or a romantic getaway, Pembrokeshire’s castles are sure to provide an unforgettable experience.