I love days out. I think it might be because I work in an office and my view consists of the building opposite. If I lean forward then I can make out a small patch of sky and I can tell if it's a nice day from the colour of this and if the sun is blinding me by reflecting off the windows opposite me. So if there is a lovely day then I just want to get out and about in the sun and see things. This time I went to Pembroke Castle and I took my camera with me as usual to try out things, and as promised I thought I'd share some of my photo's with you. The first pic is of the castle as seen from the other side of the river which surrounds one side of the castle. The river was once tidal and went up to the castle walls. The castle itself is built over a large natural cavern called Wogan's Cavern which used to flood and boats could land supplies under the castle.
Pembroke Castle is the largest privately owned castle in Wales and is situated in South West Wales in the centre of the town of Pembroke (see a theme there?). It was first established in 1093 by Roger of Montgomery, when the Norman Conquest of Wales was far from complete and stood firm against Welsh counter-attacks. Pembroke's strategic importance soon increased, as it was from here that the Normans embarked upon their Irish campaigns. In 1189 the castle came into the hands of William Marshal, who transformed the earth-and-timber castle into a mighty stone fortification. First to be built was the inner ward with its round keep which is shown in the photo above.
The photo above is of the main gatehouse which is still the entrance to the castle. As you walk through it you can still get a feel for how hard the castle would have been to attack. You can still clearly see evidence of two portcullises, stout doors, three machicolations, or murder holes, in the vaulting and a series of arrowslits. The gatehouse is now home to exhibitions detailing some of the history of the castle. During the 13th century the castle was expanded and defences were added to the outer ward.
The photos above and below were taken from one of the towers in the outer wall. I could see for miles around me so it was obviously an advantage for spotting enemy forces approaching. In the pic below you can see another of the towers and part of the wall walk. In 1405 Francis Court was hastily given munitions to hold the castle against Owain Glyndwr's uprising and the castle later passed into the hands of Jasper Tewdwr, Earl of Pembroke, and was apparently the birthplace of his nephew Henry, later King Henry VII.
As ever, I explored everywhere I could. I walked along the walls, climbed the towers and looked into every nook and cranny I could find. One place I had to see, but wouldn't have wanted to spend too much time was the Dungeon Tower which is in the photo below. Inside it was dank, cold and dark and I got that impression that this wasn't just because the castle had fallen into ruin as the main hall and living quarters would have been quite sumptuous with warm fires, tapestries and furnishings.
I learnt that Pembroke Castle became ruined during the Civil War. Pembroke declared its support for Parliament at the beginning of the Civil War, but in 1648 the town's mayor, John Poyer disgruntled at his lack of reward, joined a disaffected group of Roundheads unwilling to be demobilized. Apparently Cromwell himself came to besiege the castle which only fell after seven weeks when the water supply was cut off and a train of siege cannon arrived to start a bombardment. After this defiance, Cromwell blew up the barbican and the fronts of all the towers to prevent the castle ever again being used militarily. The castle fell into ruin and much restoration work was done in the 19th and 20th centuries and now the castle is run by a private charitable trust.
This last photo was taken from the top of the keep. In the foreground you can see the inner ward with Pembroke and the river in the background. Standing on top of the keep I wondered about all that this ancient building had witnessed over the centuries - the people that had lived there, the battles that had been fought adn the changes to Pembroke town outside it's walls. If only stone could speak...