Saturday, February 10, 2007

Pembroke Castle (Part 2) The Keep

I am fascinated by history. We are very lucky in the UK to have such a rich history and to have monuments and relics as tangible links to the past. Being an island much of our history is based on being invaded or fighting off invasion. Think of the Romans, the Viking raids, the Spanish Armada, countless wars with the French, including the Battle of Hastings where William the Conquerer lead the Norman Conquest against King Harold who was killed by an arrow in his eye, through to the Nazi threat of the Second World War. Even within the indiginous peoples - the Celts, Picts, Saxons etc., there were wars and border disputes. Castles are monuments to those turbulent times in the past and were built as defensible strongholds from which a Lord could govern and control the surrounding area.


Pembroke Castle was originally a Norman Castle and was used as a strategic base by them to launch their campaigns against Ireland. Originally a wooden structure, in 1189 the castle came into the hands of William Marshall who transformed the earth-and-timber castle into a mighty stone fortification.

First to be built was the inner ward with its magnificent round keep which is shown in the photo above. It has a height of over 22m and a remarkable domed roof. The original entrance was on the first floor seen on the right of the keep in this pic) and was approached by an external stair Later on, the present ground-floor entrance was inserted as is seen in the middle of this picture at the base of the keep.

Inside, the keep had four floors, connected by a spiral stair which also led to the battlements. The keep is open to visitors and you still climb the original spiral staircase that was used by the inhabitants of the castle over the centuries. The photo above shows the inside of the keep today. Of course the timber that was made up the floors has long since gone but you can see the holes in the walls where the timber joists slotted into the walls to hold the wooden planking. You can also see the domed roof in this picture and some of the deep windows that show how thick the wall of the keep is.

The large square holes on the top of the outside (which you can see in the first photo) were to hold a timber hoard, or fighting platform. When the castle was attacked, the hoard could be erected as an extra defence, outside the battlements but way above the heads of the attackers.


The last photo was taken from the top of the keep and is of the outer ward. From this you can see the curtain or outer wall with it's towers and the large fortified gatehouse with the town of Pembroke outside the walls. I love visiting these places and you get a real feel for the history while you are there that you wouldn't otherwise get from reading a book. I hope my last two posts have helped to bring Pembroke Castle to you and if you find yourself in the UK (or live here) I can highly recommend it.

20 comments:

grant said...

Now that's what I call a castle.
When I was a kid, my Dad told me that we were going to see Corfe Castle (Dorset).
Even at such a young age, I knew it wasn't a castle.
It's just some very large stones on a hillock.
Michele sent me

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Good photos and description.

Michele sent me.

Becky68 said...

That is beautiful, I am so envious- I hope to someday visit the UK. I love history & used to live in a house built in 1688 in Massachusetts. Which is small potatoes in time to you in UK I realize.
In one of my favorite books I read the difference between an Englishman & an American is that the American thinks 100 years is a long time & the Englishman thinks 100 miles is a long distance!
Thanks for stopping by my blog.

Blond Girl said...

Wow. Great tour. The photos and your description of the fighting made me imagine what it would have been like on the inside of the castle for the servants and town people there for protection...

Michele sent me!

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

It has to be completely awesome to actually walkm the spiral stars and look out over the property to the town. I dearly appreciate you bringing all this history to all of us out here in the Blogesphere!
Hope you are having a lovely weekend, my dear B-K.

Ramona said...

Thanks Bob-Kat! That felt like the perfect mini-tour to a beautiful site.

susiej said...

Michelle sent me -- so how apporpriate that I would land here -- a Place I have actually been too. Can I put your photos in my album? Just kidding. Very nice-- well done. So do you eat the tomato every morning? I did.

Fizzy said...

It is a lovely castle, never been. However, last summer we holidayed at Bamburgh in Northumberland... That castle is my all time fave

Cristin said...

Hello, Michele sent me.

These posts are wholly terrific. Having never been to your part of the world, and quite possibly never being able to afford it, I enjoy when folks share such great pics and descriptions. Thanks!

Janejill said...

very much enjoyed your description and all the information; one dya I will try to get to pembroke; have you seen Caernarvon? I expect so. Thanks

kenju said...

I think it is so nice of you to provide us with these wonderful photos and such good history about the place. I really enjoyed it.

Ps said...

Even better than the last one!Is there a part three? :-)

Yaeli said...

Looks like a great place to visit and I will definitely put it on my list of places to visit when I'm in the UK! Here in Aus we don't have such old relics from white man history so when I go to Europe I am always amazed that the buildings are so old!
Michele sent me.

Melody said...

Wales is just gorgeous isn't it? I spent a few weeks there about 10 years ago, mainly in Cardiff. (I was staying with a friend.) Beautiful, simply beautiful. Thanks for the tour of this castle, so rich in history.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Deja vu....Michele sent me back.

craziequeen said...

Good old William - also known as The Greatest Knight.....

:-))

Excellent post, as always, honey - stunning photos and spiel.

I'm away for two days now, text me on Tuesday about the movies, or use the Palace email.

cq

margalit said...

Excellent description, but I have to ask. Is that a Norman car park? :-)

Here from Michele

Pink Chihuahua Princess said...

Cool pictures! I love the info too.

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JAM said...

Really great couple of posts here. I love reading about things like this, and your photos are wonderful. I'd love to trek around this castle with my camera too.