Pembrokeshire Legends and its Legendary Locals
There’s always feels to be magic wherever you go in Pembrokeshire and it seems it’s always been the case. The anonymous author of The Mabinogion, a collection of 11th-century folktales described it then as a land of mystery and enchantment.
Although much time has passed, wonderful legends and tales of Pembrokeshire’s legendary locals have been passed down through the generations so they can still live on today. Here are a few of our favourites…
The Birth of Saint David
This legendary resident of Pembrokeshire, was not a minute old when he became the focus of wonder. The tale goes that, David was born to Saint Non who herself was a Princess, the daughter of Ceredig ap Cunedda, the King of Ceredigion.
Non was walking on the headlands during a fierce storm when she went into labour, the pain was so overwhelming she gripped the rocks around her for support.
As she gave birth, a bright light illumined the skies above and the storm suddenly stopped. All was calm and still, and as she rocked her baby from the spot that she had held came a spring of crystal-clear water which still flows today.
The site is marked by a simple stone arch high on the clifftop overlooking St Non’s Bay just south of the city of St David’s. For many, it’s still a place of pilgrimage and is famed for its healing powers.
Cecil of Nevern
This story also takes place in north Pembrokeshire, in the pretty village of Nevern. A local boy named Cecil Longshanks lived an ordinary life until the day that he fell ill.
It was like nothing seen before, and probably ever seen again, as one of his symptoms meant that he became pied piper of toads. Nobody understood why, but as each day passed more and more toads would hop along at his feet following wherever he went. Desperate for a way to be rid of them, Cecil and his friends devised a plan for him to live in a large sack, suspended from one of the trees in the village.
The plan worked to start, the toads just gathered around the roots of the tree, but they soon got hungry. They started with the leaves, then the branches, and the bark and eventually, poor old Cecil.
Around 180 miles away in Salisbury, you’ll find the magnificent stone circle of Stonehenge. Did you know that the stones that make the inner stone circle are actually from Pembrokeshire? They’re Bluestones from the Preseli Hills which can be seen to the north of the resort.
Original stone circles may have been in existence around the Preseli Hills prior to the construction at Stonehenge and the great sacred stones of the hills proved of such great significance that they may well have been transported to form the new magnificent stone circle at Stonehenge.
It remains a mystery how these sparkling stones, each weighing over 20 tons made this journey, but myths suggest it was the magic of Merlin that built this spectacular site.
Adam and the Adder
One the way to Newgale from Bluestone you’ll pass through the village of Roch. On your right-hand side, you’ll see the castle keep which was built by a Norman nobleman named Adam de la Roche in the 13th century.
It’s said that a witch promised to curse him should he continue with the build in that location. Adam carried on, and the witch upheld her promise, her curse said he would die within the year of an adder bite.
Terrified, Adam added a set of rooms for his own use at the top of the fortress, where he could live without ever venturing out. The winter that year was harsh but he refused to leave for 365 days so that the curse would pass him by. To ensure his comfort a pully system was installed so that wood could be hauled up to him in a basket.
With just a day to go, of his year in isolation, Adam pulled up the basket and reached inside to retrieve some wood for the fire. An adder was lurking in the branches and bit him, the witch’s prophecy was fulfilled. His dying shrieks echoed through the surrounding countryside and it is said that they can still be heard on cold, windy nights in the west.
Driving north over the Preseli Hills, you’ll see the magical mountain of Carningli to your left. Although at its highest it’s only 347m it dominates the skylines over Newport and can be seen for miles.
Its name, sometimes spelled as Carn Yengly, translates as “the rocky summit of Angels.”
According to legend, St. Brynach, for whom there is a church in his name in nearby Nevern, which is home to the Bleeding Yew, used to climb to the summit to pray.
It was said that here he spoke to the angels and found serenity and enlightenment for his path. The legends have continued to this day, with Angels filling your dreams if you spend a night on the summit.