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Ancient Monuments and Sites

Pembrokeshire's rich history stretches back thousands of years and is filled with unique and mysterious relics from a fascinating past.

Neolithic burial chambers, Standing Stones, remains of Iron Age Forts and ruins of holy buildings are nestled into the landscape and seem so naturally placed, you'd be forgiven for thinking they'd been there forever.

With so many to visit, you might be unsure where to get started, so we've picked our favourites and best-known sites to help you get started.

 

Castell Henllys

Castell Henllys (which translated means ‘Old Court Castle’) is unique in that it is the only Iron Age Fort in Britain where replica roundhouses have been reconstructed on the original spot where they would have stood over 2,000 years ago.

Authentically created using the same materials as would have been used, there are four roundhouses and a granary, which depicts the everyday life of a Celtic community who, would've lived in Pembrokeshire during and after the Roman invasion of mainland Britain.

Managed by the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, it's well worth a visit.

 

Pentre Ifan

Pentre Ifan Burial Chamber

The largest and best preserved neolithic burial chamber in Wales, Pentre Ifan is a haunting and beautiful monument to the past that is made from the same bluestone from the nearby Preselli Hills, that were used to form Stonehenge. 

Consisting of a giant capstone balancing on three upright rocks, it might look precarious, but the construction has stood the test of time - and is believed to be over 5,000 years old.

Originally the stones wouldn't be visible, covered by a mound of earth, but over the centuries, it has disappeared, leaving just the framework of the chamber. It now sits perfectly nestled into the landscape that has changed around it, framed by the romantic and wild Preselli Hills, with Pembrokeshire's famous coast in the distance. 

The stone monument was named after the estate it sits on in North Pembrokeshire, and is around a 34-minute drive from Bluestone.

 

St. Non's Chapel and Holy Well

The ruins of St. Non's Chapel, near St Davids

Built to mark the birthplace of St David, the Patron Saint of Wales, the ruins of St Non's Chapel and Holy Well are perched on the cliffside close to the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park coast path, just a few miles south to the current day town of St Davids.

Born around 475, St Non was believed to be the mother of St David and according to legend gave birth to her son on the cliff side spot in the middle of a storm. It was said she was in so much pain, that she gripped the rocks around her making permenant marks in the cliffside. 

The Holy Well

It's unknown when the ruined chapel was first built, but it was believed to have been originally the site of St Non's house and is one of the oldest Christian buildings in Wales.

Close to the chapel ruins is a Holy Well, which was said to have healing properties, especially for eye problems, and attracted visitors, who doused themselves in the water. Now, visitors throw coins into the well in the hope it will bring them good luck.

 

Coetan Arthur Burial Chamber

Coetan Arthur Burial Chamber, Pembrokeshire

Known also as Arthur's Quoit, Coetan Arthur is the remain of a Neolithic burial chamber, believed to date from around 3,000 BC. An impressive sight, the capstone is an impressive 6 meters by 2.5 meters with the upright stone around 1.5 meters high.

 Found on the hillside close to St Davids Head in the North of Pembrokeshire, it's one of many ancient remains found on the headland and around the outcrop of Carn Llidi where there are also remains of ancient field patterns, Neolithic enclosures and defensive banks and ditches.

Named after the legendary King Arthur, according to folklore it was formed when Arthur threw stones at the nearby rocky outcrop of Carn Llidi.

You can access the monument via the coastpath, parking at Whitesands Bay from where it is about a mile walk northwards passed the inaccessible beach of Porthmelgan and around the headland. Keep your eyes open as there are no signs and you could miss it.

 

Gors Fawr Stone Circle

 A Bronze Age Stone Circle, Gors Fawr is one of the only examples of stone circles left in Pembrokeshire. It consist of 16 small standing stones arranged in an oval, with a diameter of roughly 22 meters, with none of the stones measuring above a metre in height.

Despite it's location, only one of the stones consists of the famous bluestones which originate from the Presellis and were used to create another, more famous, stone circle - Stonehenge in Wiltshire. The rest are from local glacial erratic boulders.

This area is rich in ancient monuments, and close to the circle are a set of two standing stones. Measuring around two meters in height and separated by around 14 meters, their position has led some to speculate they are connected to the midsummer sunrise.

The circle can be found in a field close to the village of Mynachlog-ddu in the Preselli Hills, and can be accessed via a footpath. 14 miles from Bluestone, it takes around 23-minutes to get there and as well as the stone circle you can enjoy spectacular views of Pembrokeshire, as you look out from the Preselli Hills.

 

St Govan's Chapel

 Nestled into the cliff side on the south coast of Pembrokeshire, St Govan's is a 5th century chapel found at the bottom of a long flight of steps carved into the stone.

Unless you knew of it's existence, it would be easy to miss this hidden gem. It only becomes visitble when you are at the cliff edge looking down for it and the steep stairwell leading down would put off most visitors.  According to legend it was built by Govan, a hermit, which would fit with its remote and hidden location along the coast. 

Perhaps because of this, little is known about Govan or the original building that existed on the site, which would have been a wood structure. The current stone building dates back to the 13th century and is located near an ancient well, which would have provided a supply of fresh water for it's inhabitants and was believed to have had healing qualities, though it has now run dry.

 

 Respecting and Protecting our Heritage

One of the most special things about Pembrokeshire's monuments and ancient sites is that they haven't been removed and put in a museum, they're part of the landscape and continue to influence our culture as beautiful reminders of our past.

The majority are free to visit and simply found in fields or along paths. Many of these sites are thousands of years old and to ensure they are enjoyed for thousands more, we ask you to please respect them when you visit them and leave them exactly as they were found.

 

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