by Hannah Craven
History and Heritage
Calling all history buffs! There are lots of interesting castles in Pembrokeshire to discover.
From the mighty Pembroke Castle to the historic remains of Tenby Castle atop a dramatic headland on the town’s coast, there’s plenty of historic castles in West Wales to keep you busy. Giving a unique insight into Wales’ rich history, many of the castles in Pembrokeshire have been well preserved, with some dating back a whopping 2,000 years.
To help you on your way, we’ve put together a guide to the seven best castles in Pembrokeshire…
Location: Pembroke, SA71 4LA
A mighty fortress with a fascinating history, Pembroke Castle was first built in 1093. Set within the heart of the town, it was the original family seat of the Earldom of Pembroke. It was given to the First Earl of Pembroke during the 12th century, who soon became one of the most powerful men in history. He decided to rebuild the castle in stone, much of which is still present today.
The castle has been featured in many films and television programmes throughout the years, including the 1977 comedy film Jabberwocky and The Bad Education Movie in 2015. Visitors are able to wander the grounds and get a feel for what life was like for its residents many centuries ago.
Admission fee: £7.00 for adults, £6.00 for seniors (65+) and children (3-15).
Location: Manorbier, Tenby SA70 7SY
A majestic Norman castle that sits above the coast, Manorbier Castle was founded in the late 11th century. Some of the medieval frescoes within the castle’s walls still remain, and visitors are able to walk through its remaining rooms – including the dungeon.
The castle actually fell into disrepair between the 17th and 18th centuries, although it was partially restored by J.R.Cobb in 1880. Although it is still privately owned, the castle and its gardens are open to the public throughout the year. It’s even become a popular wedding venue!
Admission fee: £5.50 for adults, £4 for seniors, and £3 for children. Group tickets are available at a discounted price.
Location: Castle Ln, Carew, Tenby SA70 8SL
With a history spanning over 2,000 years, Carew Castle is a must-see for any history fan and one of our favourite things to do in Pembrokeshire. The Norman castle was first built by Gerald de Windsor in 1100. In the 12th century, his son, William de Carew, improved the fortifications, adding a stone wall around the castle and adding an impressive great room within them.
The Carew family still own the castle to this day, leasing it to the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park so that visitors can wander the impressive grounds of the fortress.
The history of the site dates much further back than 1100. Archaeological findings have shown that this particular plot of land has been used for military purposes for over 2,000 years. The defensive walls of an Iron Age fort are among the many findings on the site.
Admission fee: £6.50 for adults, £5.50 for seniors and students, and £4.50 for children (4-16).
Location: Cilgerran Castle near, Cardigan SA43 2SF
Cilgerran Castle sits atop a deep gorge on the River Teifi in Cardigan, and once provided quite a secure base for its inhabitants. In order for invaders to infiltrate the castle, they had to navigate across the gorge – quite some challenge! However, it did end up changing hands between English and Welsh forces throughout the centuries.
Much like Carew Castle, it was first built by Gerald de Windsor between 1110–1115. It is now managed by the National Trust, and visitors can wander around the ruins for free.
Admission fee: Free to visit
Location: Tal-Y-Bont Hill, Llawhaden, Narberth SA67 8HL
Ten miles from Haverfordwest, the ruins of Llawhaden Castle tell a tale of the region’s medieval history. Initially built as an opulent residence rather than a defensive fortification, it was once inhabited by the bishops of the Diocese of St David. By the 16th century, the castle was abandoned and its stone was used for local building projects.
Now managed and maintained by CADW, visitors can wander the grounds of this once impressive fortress.
Location: 3 Cawdor Terrace, Wiston, Haverfordwest SA62 4PN
Considered to be one of the best examples of a motte and bailey castle in the whole of Wales, the well-preserved remains of Wiston Castle sit atop a hillside just outside the village of Wiston. Much like Cilgerran Castle, across the centuries it switched hands between English and Welsh forces quite a bit before Llywelyn the Great destroyed it in 1220.
It’s a great place to visit as you’ll find a choice of scenic walks in the local area.
Location: Bridge St, Tenby SA70 7BP
First built by the Normans in the 12th century, Tenby Castle is a Grade II* listed building perched atop a headland just off the coast of Tenby. Just a small tower of the castle now remains on Castle Hill, although the town walls have been impeccably preserved through the centuries.
You can climb up to Castle Hill from the harbour. At the top, the views across the coast are absolutely spectacular and definitely worth the climb. Afterwards, you can stroll back to the golden sands of the beach or check out the many interesting shops and cafes within the town.
There’s just so much history to be discovered here, and where better to stay than our Pembrokeshire cottages? Equipped with all your home comforts (as well as those lovely little extras), you’ll find our beautiful holiday cottages across the county. Choose from dog-friendly retreats, family-friendly boltholes, and romantic cottages for two – among many other wonderful properties. Take a look and start planning a weekend away in Wales today!
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