|Location:||Pembroke, inside Pembroke Castle. South west Wales, 40km south of Fishguard, 120km west of Swansea. From Swanea follow A498 north to Carmarthen, then A40 west towards Haverfordwest. Turnoff onto A477 at St. Clears. (NGR SM 9817 0165)|
|Address:||Pembroke Castle, Pembroke, SN982015, Pembrokeshire, southwest Wales. Tel: +44-1646-681510. Ticket office: 01646-684585.|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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|1093||Pembroke Castle founded by Roger of Montgomery.|
|1189||in the hands of William Marshall who built the stone fortress we see today.|
Pembroke Castle was founded by Roger of Montgomery in 1093. At this time it was an earth and timber construction, but still it resisted all counter attacks by Welsh forces. In 1189 William Marshall transformed it into the enormous stone fortress that we can still see today.
The most unusual feature of the castle is Wogan Cavern, a huge natural cave, beneath the south eastern corner of the castle at sea level. It is accessible via 55 steps from the castle. The huge cavern was closed by a massive wall and provided a good storage space. Possibly it has also been used as a boathouse.
Wogan Cavern is a natural limestone cave, a karst cave, but it was heavily altered to fulfil the demands of the medieval castle. Still many parts of the cave remained untouched, like the cave sediments, in which flint tools from the Middle Stone Age have been found.
This natural cavern, unparalleled in other British castles, is below the Northern and Norman Halls, formed in the limestone rock on which Pembroke Castle is built. Access to and from the castle is gained by a circular staircase built half in the rock and half in an exterior turret.
In shape it is a roughly circular vault measuring about 80 feet from north to south, and 60 feet from east to west with a lofty roof. It was probably used as a storehouse and boathouse and was fairly dry when the buildings over it were roofed. In front of the arched entrance, a canal or ditch ran down to the river; this ditch was filled in when forming the path around the castle. It was probably used by small ships so that they could load and discharge cargo directly from the cave. The sally port overlooking the river is now made secure with an iron grille.
Warning! Outside at the north-east angle, in a shoulder of the wall, is an arch which is the outlet of the latrine in the Northern Hall above!
Reprinted with cringing permission from Caves of West Wales by Tony Oldham (2003).