Pembroke Town Walls

Has been described as a Certain Urban Defence

There are major building remains

NamePembroke Town Walls
Alternative NamesPenfro; Barnard's Tower; Bernard's Tower
Historic CountryPembrokeshire
Modern AuthorityPembrokeshire
1974 AuthorityDyfed
CommunityPembroke

The medieval borough of Pembroke (see NPRN 33205) was laid out along a narrow peninsular between two inlets of Milford Haven with the castle crowning the cliffs at the seaward end (NPRN 94945). The walls are thought to have been constructed in the later thirteenth-earlier fourteenth century at a time when the castle reached its present imposing strength. The area enclosed is roughly 850m long and at most 240m wide. The strongest works were those crossing the peninsular to the east, where there was a gate and where the remarkable detached Barnard's or Bernard's tower remains Other gates gave acess to causways across the inlets at the west end below the castle and a fragment of the West Gate still survives. There are remains of four other towers, two of which, overlooking the infilled southern inlet, have eighteenth-nineteenth century gazebos built upon them (see NPRN 266508). (Coflein)

There are substantial remains of the town wall, which runs around the perimeter of the narrow peninsula along which the town lies, with the castle at its tip. The remains include four of the original six flanking towers and part of one of the three gatehouses. The wall dates from the first two decades of the 14th century, but is the latest in a possible sequence of three lines of defence. The first may date to the 12th century and encircle a small area between the castle and the parish church of St Mary. The second appears to have been established midway along the peninsula, probably in the early 13th century, beyond which an extra-mural suburb was established around St Michael's parish church and marketplace. Both these defences were probably of earthwork and timber. The final masonry phase enclosed all elements of the town, and both parish churches. The wall was repaired, and partly rebuilt during the 15th century, but was damaged, and finally slighted as a result of the Civil Wars of the 1640s

(Dyfed Archaeological Trust, 2001)

On the S side of the town extending some 225m E from no. 5 Common Road to Rock Terrace.

The town walls, of probably late C12 to early C13 origin, are shown in Speed's map and on the C17 'French' map, but little of medieval date appears to survive above ground . It is possible that the rear garden walls to properties on both sides of Main Street may either incorporate some foundations of the medieval walls or may be built in several places on their course. The walls along the S side include two medieval towers (Scheduled Ancient Monuments), and are otherwise mostly garden end walls possibly on the foundations of the medieval walls or built on their course. The walls run from No 5 Common Road to Rock Terrace.

Walls, rubble stone, partly built on bedrock. The first section appears to be the S walls of outbuildings built parallel to the old wall line behind Nos. 87-91 Main St.. Straight joint to right of No 5 Common Road and a high rubble wall, with door to right and access ramp up, behind No 87 Main Street, then straight joint and low door to rear garden of No 89 and ramp running down to E, further door at lower level at end of ramp and window with brick head at higher level to right. This section not marked on c. 1865 map. Then a straight joint to a C19 lofted outbuilding (marked on c. 1865 map) with corrugated iron roof, a stone doorway at left and two windows with brick heads. Ramp in front. E end gable has broad entry with high timber lintel. This building probably has the older wall as the back wall as this continues the line of the walls further E. (High separate stone terrace walls in the steep rear garden of Nos. 89-91 and continued E to rear of Tabernacle Chapel). E of the outbuilding described above is a wall of stone rubble behind No 91 which has been broken in the centre for a broad opening, the walling much rebuilt. Behind Tabernacle Congregational Church, a doorway, then an early C19 lime kiln, comprising a semi-circular stone projection with recess on each side giving access to curved pointed kiln-eyes. Behind is an area of rough ground with shallow caves or quarries. High walls running back to chapel S retaining wall, straight joint at foot of E wall, then door and higher section of wall behind No 93, rebuilt wall and another two doors behind Nos. 95 and 97. Garden wall to S of no 99 Main Street is more substantial and has a doorway to left of one of the towers of the medieval town wall. Round rubble stone medieval tower has arrow slots on two levels and overgrown roof possibly vaulted. Tower is a Scheduled Ancient Monument. To right of tower, behind No 101 the wall is set back with a stub wall dividing two recesses, the right one roofed as a garage. The stub wall is curved at the S end of the W side. The c. 1865 map shows a building on this site. Garden door to No 101 to right with earth ramp in front. More substantial walling behind Nos. 103 and 105, the ramp leads up to a doorway; a further ramp against wall of no 105. The walling drops considerably in height to rear of no 107 where there is a vehicular doorway with concrete lintel. A yellow brick passage entry to no 109 Main Street adjoins this. The garden wall to rear of no 111 Main Street is much higher; a lateral ramp leads up to stone doorway at W end. Here too, a further Scheduled Ancient Monument, comprising the base of a medieval bastion, rubble stone with loop each floor on S, arched door with stone voussoirs to E and loop over. Interior lined in C20 blockwork. Built on to bastion is gazebo formerly part of garden of No 111. Later C18, restored in late C20, deteriorating 2004. Two-storey octagon with pebbledashed stone rubble walls with stucco quoins and window surrounds. Octagonal pagoda roof of shaped slates with ball finial. It formerly had a wooden eaves cornice, replaced with iron gutters, partly missing 2004. In N E, S and W faces, there are renewed sash windows, long 12-pane in the upper storey, and, in W, S and E faces, short 9-pane sashes. To E of the bastion and gazebo, a short length of overgrown high wall as far as No 4 Rock Terrace. (Listed Building Report)

Gatehouse Comments

Clearly there are difficulties with the dating of the town walls. The site is natural strong and would not need much work to make it defensible. The town was not attacked during the wars of the C13, Soulsby writes 'no doubt because of the sheer impregnability of the site'. However, walls and, particualrly gates, would have increased the defensibility and also enhanced the town status and tax collection effectiveness. Soulsby writes 'Medieval Pembroke was a prosperous community with a viable commercial life' but walls did not protect the town from decline of maritime trade (lost to Haverfordwest) and like many towns in Wales it declined in the C15, although this decline cannot, as it usually is, be blamed on the Glyndwr revolt, since Pembroke was not attacked.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 2* listed building protected by law

Historic Wales CADW listed database record number
The National Monument Record (Coflein) number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSM985013
Latitude51.673641204834
Longitude-4.91130018234253
Eastings198500
Northings201300
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Photograph by Peter E Presford. All rights reserved
Photograph by Peter E Presford. All rights reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved

Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.

Calculate Print

Books

  • Salter, Mike, 2013, Medieval Walled Towns (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 179-80
  • Hull, Lise, 2005, Castles and Bishops Palaces of Pembrokeshire (Logaston Press) p. 179-180
  • Creighton, O.H. and Higham, R.A., 2005, Medieval Town Walls (Stroud: Tempus) p. 27, 49, 67, 83, 95, 128, 131, 145-6, 155-6, 240, 242, 272
  • Pettifer, Adrian, 2000, Welsh Castles, A Guide by Counties (Boydell Press) p. 171-2
  • Davis, Paul, 2000, A Company of Forts. A Guide to the Medieval Castles of West Wales (Gomer Press)
  • Salter, Mike, 1996, The Castles of South West Wales (Malvern) p. 79
  • Bond, C.J., 1987, 'Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Defences' in Schofield, J. and Leech, R. (eds), Urban Archaeology in Britain (CBA Research Report 61) p. 92-116 online copy (plan)
  • Soulsby, Ian, 1983, The Towns of Medieval Wales (Phillimore; Chichester) p. 214-7
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 400
  • Barley, M.W., 1975, 'Town Defences in England and Wales after 1066' in Barley (ed) The plans and topography of medieval towns in England and Wales (CBA Research Report 14) p. 57-71 online copy
  • Turner, H.L., 1971, Town Defences in England and Wales (London) p. 217-8
  • RCAHMW, 1925, An inventory of the Ancient Monuments of Pembrokeshire (HMSO) p. 286-7 no. 836 online copy
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (Methuen and Co) p. 247
  • Edwards, Emily Hewlett, 1909, Castles and Strongholds of Pembrokeshire (Tenby) p. 18-19 online copy
  • Lewis, Samual, 1849, A Topographical Dictionary of Wales online copy

Antiquarian

Journals

  • Wiles, John, 2013-14, '"Marshall towers" in South-West Wales: Innovation, Emulation and Mimicry' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 27 p. 181-202
  • Creighton, Oliver, 2006, ''Castles of Communities': Medieval Town Defences in England; Wales and Gascony' Château Gaillard Vol. 22 p. 75-86
  • Lawler, M., 1998, 'Investigating the town wall and burgage plots at South Quay and Castle Terrace, Pembroke' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 147 p. 159-180
  • Ludlow, N. 1991, ‘Pembroke Castle and town walls’ Fortress: The castles and fortifications quarterly Vol. 8 p. 25-30
  • King, D.J.C. and Cheshire, Mark, 1982, 'The town walls of Pembroke (12th century)' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 131 p. 77-84
  • Hindle, B.P. 1979, ‘Medieval Pembroke’ Pembrokeshire Historian Vol. 6 p. 76-80 online copy
  • Hogg, A.H.A. and King, D.J.C., 1967, 'Masonry castles in Wales and the Marches: a list' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 116 p. 71-132

Guide Books

  • Anon, 1971 (14edn), A Short History of Pembroke Castle (Five Arches Press; Tenby) p. 32-4
  • Anon, 1947 (7edn), A Short History of Pembroke Castle (Waterlow and Sons Ltd) p. 34-6

Other

  • Ludlow, Neil, 2001, Pembroke Town Walls Project: archaeological interpretation and condition survey (Dyfed Archaeological Trust/Pembroke Design Architects Report)