Castles & historic sites

Pembrokeshire is the home of the Tudor dynasty: Henry VII was born in Pembroke Castle and became the first Welshman to claim the English crown when he defeated Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. Today the castle is well preserved and is one of many castles and other popular historic (and prehistoric) attractions and monuments in the county.

Carew Castle & Tidal Mill. The place where the last great medieval jousting tournament in Wales was held, five centuries ago, Carew Castle enjoys a picturesque waterside setting, Today it is the scene for regular events organised by the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, who manage the site. A further attraction here is an 11th-century Celtic cross – one of the finest examples in Wales. The tidal mill is the only restored example of its kind in the principality boasting all of the original machinery.

Carew 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.

Castell Henllys Iron Age fort. Another historic National Park Authority attraction, this is set in a stunning hilltop location between Newport and Cardigan in the north of the county. The authentic roundhouses have been recreated exactly where they originally stood more than 2,000 years ago after archaeologists uncovered the old foundations. Well worth a visit, this fascinating and award-winning slice of real history is an education in itself.

Colby Woodland Garden (near Amroth). In a secluded woodland setting, this beautiful National Trust attraction hosts one of the finest collections of rhododendrons and azaleas in Wales, and open wooded  pathways make for very pleasant walks through the valley.

Haverfordwest Castle. Most of what remains today dates from the time of Edward I, and those parts which have gone bear testimony to Cromwell’s orders of 1648 to destroy the castle following the civil wars. Castle House is now home to the town’s museum. The fascinating artefacts on display include Cromwell’s written instructions to demolish the castle.

Manorbier Castle. Wonderfully located above the beach and bay, this medieval castle was constructed in the 12th century from local limestone. In summer the lawned garden is extremely relaxing, while the views from the towers merit a visit in their own right. This was the birthplace of scholar and writer Gerald of Wales, whose major works remain in print, and other writers to find inspiration here included George Bernard Shaw and Virginia Woolf. Opposite the castle, on the slopes of the wooded vale, is the equally impressive Norman church of St James.

Pembroke Castle. The birthplace in 1457 of Harri Tudor, destined to become King Henry VII, this is one of the best-preserved medieval castles in Wales. The most striking features include its extremely thick walls – within which are endless rooms, passageways and spiralling flights of narrow stone steps – and the towering round keep, 75 feet high, with amazing views in all directions. The castle stands on a rocky peninsula between two tidal creeks, enjoying superb natural defences. It also stands guard over the town’s Main Street, which has an interesting variety of shops. Another attraction is the beautiful Mill Pond Walk and the swans which decorate the water.

Picton Castle (between Narberth and Haverfordwest). The ancestral 12th-century home of the Philipps family, direct descendants of its builder, Sir John Wogan. In summer months there are guided tours of the castle, which retains much of its original character, and other attractions include the art gallery, 40 acres of gardens, restaurant and special events.

Tenby Castle and town walls. Tenby is a small medieval walled town, distinctive for its five arches, and although very little remains of the castle itself (part of William de Valence’s defensive plan for the town), the views over Carmarthen Bay from Castle Hill are superb. Tenby Museum & Art Gallery is also located here.