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Pembrokeshire (, , or ; Welsh: Sir Benfro ) is a county in the south west of Wales. It borders Carmarthenshire to the east and Ceredigion to the north east. Pembrokeshire County Council's headquarters are in the county town of Haverfordwest.

The county is home to Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, the only coastal national park of its kind in the United Kingdom and one of three national parks in Wales, the others being Snowdonia and Brecon Beacons national parks. Over the years Pembrokeshire's beaches have been awarded many International Blue Flag Awards, Green Coast Awards and Seaside Awards. In 2011 it had 39 beaches recommended by the Marine Conservation Society.

Pembrokeshire's population, according to the UK Census, was 114,131 in 2001 rising to 122,400 by the following census in 2011, an increase of 8.2%.[1]

Much of Pembrokeshire has been English in language for many centuries. The boundary between the English and Welsh speakers is known as the Landsker Line and southern Pembrokeshire is occasionally referred to as Little England beyond Wales.


  • Geography 1
  • History 2
  • Local government 3
  • Transport 4
  • Industry 5
    • Agriculture 5.1
    • Fishing 5.2
    • Mining 5.3
    • Oil and gas 5.4
    • Tourism 5.5
    • Media 5.6
  • Sport 6
  • Culture 7
  • Notable people 8
  • Flag 9
  • Filming location 10
  • Places of interest 11
    • Geography 11.1
    • Visitor attractions 11.2
    • Historical places 11.3
    • Beaches 11.4
  • See also 12
  • References 13
  • External links 14
  • Further reading 15


Pembrokeshire is a maritime county, bordered by the sea on three sides, by Ceredigion to the north east and by Carmarthenshire to the east. The local economy relies heavily on tourism but agriculture is still important. Since the 1950s, petrochemical and liquid natural gas industries have developed along the Milford Haven Waterway.

The administrative headquarters, historic county town and largest town is Haverfordwest. Other settlements include Pembroke itself, Pembroke Dock, Milford Haven, Fishguard, Tenby, Saundersfoot, Narberth, Neyland and Newport. St David's, in the north west of the county, is the United Kingdom's smallest city with a population of 2,000 (in 2010).

See List of places in Pembrokeshire for a comprehensive list of settlements in Pembrokeshire.

The county's coastline comprises internationally important seabird breeding sites and numerous bays and sandy beaches. Pembrokeshire contains a predominantly coastal park, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, which includes a 186-mile walking trail, the Pembrokeshire Coast Path.[2] A large estuary and natural harbour at Milford Haven cuts deeply into the coast, formed by the confluence of the Western Cleddau (which goes through Haverfordwest), the Eastern Cleddau and rivers Cresswell[3] and Carew. The estuary is bridged by the large Cleddau Bridge (toll bridge) which bears the A477 between Neyland and Pembroke Dock; upstream bridges are found crossing the Cleddau at Haverfordwest and Canaston Bridge.

Large bays are Newport Bay, Fishguard Bay, St Bride's Bay and a portion of Carmarthen Bay. There are several small islands off the Pembrokeshire coast, the largest of which are Ramsey Island, Grassholm Island, Skomer Island and Caldey Island.

In the north of the county are the Preseli Hills (Mynydd Preseli), a wide stretch of high moorland with many prehistoric monuments and the source of the bluestones used in the construction of the inner circle of Stonehenge in England.[4] The highest point of the county is Foel Cwmcerwyn (1759 ft/536 m) in the Preseli Hills.

Elsewhere the county is relatively flat, most of the land being used for lowland farming of dairy cows, arable crops, oil seed rape, and the well-known Pembrokeshire potato.

Saundersfoot is the biggest village in Pembrokeshire, situated between Tenby and Narbeth, with a population of well over 2500.


Human habitation of the region of Pembrokeshire extends back to 125,000 and 70,000 BCE.[5] By the late Roman Empire period, an Irish tribe known as the Déisi settled in the region between AD 350 and 400, with their realm known as Demetae.

In the post Roman period, the Irish Déisi merged with the local Welsh, with the name of the region evolving into Dyfed, which existed as an independent petty kingdom until its heiress, Elen, married Hywel the Good in AD 904.[5]

Hywel merged Dyfed with his own maternal inheritance of Seisyllwg, forming the new realm of Deheubarth.[5] The region suffered from devastating and relentless Viking raids during the Viking Age, with the Vikings establishing settlements and trading posts at Haverfordwest, Fishguard and Caldey Island.[5]

Pembroke Castle, birthplace of Henry VII

Dyfed, the region of Pembrokeshire, remained an integral province of Deheubarth but this was contested by invading Normans and Flemings who arrived between 1067 and 1111.[5] The region became known as Pembroke, after the Norman castle built in the Penfro cantref. But Norman/Flemish presence was precarious given the hostility of the native Welsh Princes. In 1136 Prince Owain Gwynedd sought to avenge the execution of his sister the Princess Gwenllian of Deheubarth and her children, with Gwenllian's husband the Prince Rhys swept down from Gwynedd with a formidable army and at Crug Mawr near Cardigan. There they met and destroyed the 3000 strong Norman/Flemish army. The remnants of the Normans fled across the bridge at Cardigan which collapsed and the Teifi river was choked with drowned Men at Arms and horses.

The Norman Marcher Lord Gilbert de Clare was also killed. Owain's brother Cadwallader took de Clares daughter Alice as his wife. Owain incorporated Deheubarth into Gwynedd re-establishing control of the region. Mortally weakened Norman/Flemish influence never fully recovered in West Wales. Princess Gwenllian of Deheubarth is one of the best remembered victims.[6] In 1138 the county of Pembrokeshire was named as a county palatine

Proportion of Welsh speakers (2011 census)

The county has long been divided between an English-speaking south (known as "Little England beyond Wales") and a historically more Welsh-speaking north, along a reasonably sharply-defined linguistic border (see map) called the Landsker.

The Lord Rhys, Prince of Deheubarth, Princess Gwenllian's son, reestablished Welsh control over much of the region and threatened to retake all of Pembrokeshire, but died in 1197.[5] After Deheubarth was split by a dynastic feud, Llywelyn the Great almost managed to retake the region of Pembroke between 1216 and his death in 1240.[5]

In 1457 Henry Tudor was born at Pembroke Castle and, 28 years later, landing an army not far from his birthplace, he rallied support, marched through Wales to Bosworth field in Leicestershire and defeated the larger army of Richard III. As Henry VII he founded the Tudor dynasty which successfully ruled England until 1603.

The Act of Union of 1536 divided the county into hundreds, which followed with some modifications the lines of the ancient division into cantrefs, which went back to before the Norman conquest. The 1536 hundreds were (clockwise from the north-east): Cilgerran or Kilgerran, Cemais or Kemes, Dewisland or Dewsland, Roose, Castlemartin, Narbeth and Dungleddy or Daugleddau. The Genuki web pages on Pembrokeshire include a list of the parishes within each hundred.

During the First English Civil War (1642-1646) the county gave strong support to the Parliamentary cause, in sharp contrast to the rest of Wales which was staunchly Royalist. In spite of this an incident in Pembrokeshire triggered the opening shots of the Second Civil War when local units of the New Model Army mutinied. Oliver Cromwell defeated the uprising at the Siege of Pembroke in July 1648.[7] In 1649 Cromwell's expeditionary force for Ireland sailed from Milford Haven.

Pembrokeshire has seen considerable military activity from the Civil War to the Cold War with, for example, military exercises in the Preseli Hills and a number of former military airfields.[8]

There are some 3,000 known shipwrecks off the Pembrokeshire coast, a consequence of its ruggedness and difficult sailing conditions.[9] The county has six lifeboat stations, the earliest of which was established in 1822.

Local government

Under the Local Government Act 1888, an elected county council was set up to take over the functions of the Pembrokeshire Quarter Sessions. This, and the administrative county of Pembrokeshire were abolished under the Local Government Act 1972, with Pembrokeshire forming two districts of the new county of Dyfed: South Pembrokeshire and Preseli – the split being made at the request of local authorities in the area.[10] In 1996, under the Local Government (Wales) Act 1994, the county of Dyfed was broken up into its constituent parts, and Pembrokeshire has been a unitary authority since then.


The main towns in the county are well served with bus and train services, but those living in more rural parts have little or no access to public transportation.

There are no motorways in Pembrokeshire. The nearest motorway to the county town of Haverfordwest is the M4 which terminates at Pont Abraham in Carmarthenshire, some 46 miles (74 km) to the east. There are currently demands for the A40 from St. Clears to Haverfordwest to be made fully dual carriageway. The road is used heavily by traffic from the ferry port in Fishguard which follows the A40 south to Haverfordwest, then east where it becomes dual at St. Clears in Carmarthenshire.[11]

The A477 which runs from St. Clears to the port of Pembroke Dock is 24 miles (39 km) long, of which only 2 miles (3.2 km) are part-dual carriageway. This road is heavily used by businesses and tourists visiting Pembrokeshire and improvements to the road have been made in recent years. The Cleddau Bridge carries the A477 connecting South Pembrokeshire with North Pembrokeshire across the Cleddau Estuary.

The A478 traverses eastern Pembrokeshire from Tenby in the south to Cardigan, Ceredigion, in the north, a distance of 30 miles (48 km).

The A487 is the other major route, running north-west from Haverfordwest to St David's, then north-east following the coast, through Fishguard and Newport, to the border with Ceredigion at Cardigan. Owing to width restrictions in Fishguard, some freight vehicles are not permitted to travel north-east from Fishguard but are obliged to take a longer route via Haverfordwest and Narberth.

The branch railway lines, terminating at Pembroke Dock and Milford Haven have two-hourly services. The Fishguard branch has seven services each weekday; two are timed to meet the Rosslare Europort ferries to and from Ireland.

Haverfordwest (Withybush) airport provides general aviation services.



Pembrokeshire's mild climate means that crops such as its famous new potatoes (which have protected geographical status under European law) often arrive in British shops earlier in the year than produce from other parts of the UK. As well as arable crops such as potatoes, the other main agricultural activities are dairy farming of cattle for milk and cheese, sheep farming, beef production and some other arable crops, such as rapeseed.

The county lends its name to the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, a herding dog whose lineage can be traced back to the 12th century.

Falling farm incomes have led to diversification into other novel farming and tourism related activities. From 1,700 km² of land, about 1,260 (74%) are used by agriculture. The majority of this land (60%) is down to permanent grassland and 26% is arable. Farm revenues are less than the UK average, but agriculture still provides 7,000 jobs.


Milford Haven Docks & Marina

With much of Pembrokeshire being coastline or tidal river estuaries, fishing was an important industry at least from the 16th century, with many ports and villages dependent on the industry before it declined.[12] The former large sea fishing industry around Milford Haven is now greatly reduced, although limited commercial fishing still takes place. At its peak, Milford was landing over 40,000 tons of fish a year.[12] Pembrokeshire Fish Week is an annual event[13][14] which in 2014 attracted 31,000 visitors and generated £3 million for the local economy.[15]


Slate mining was a significant industry in the 19th and early 20th centuries with major quarrying taking place at about 100 locations throughout the county.[16] Over 50 coal workings were in existence between the 13th and 20th centuries, with the last Pembrokeshire coal mine, at Kilgetty, closing in 1950.[17]

Oil and gas

Pembroke Power Station under construction (Jan 2011)

The banks of the Milford Haven Waterway are dominated by the oil and gas industry with two oil refineries, two large liquified natural gas (LNG) terminals and a new 2000 MW gas-fired Pembroke Power Station is currently under construction on the site of a previous oil-fired power station which closed in 1997 and demolished in 2000.

The two oil refineries in Pembrokeshire are:

  • Chevron (formerly Texaco): 214,000 bpd (barrels per day) and
  • Murco (formerly Amoco/Elf): 108,000 bbl/d (17,200 m3/d)

At the peak, there were a total of five refineries served from around the Haven.

The LNG terminals on the north side of the river, just outside Milford Haven are now complete, and opened in 2008. A completed but controversial pipeline runs through rural farms and countryside connecting Milford Haven to Tilbury in Gloucestershire.


In 2010 4.2 million tourists visited the county, staying for an average of 3.3 days. Overall, in 2010, £544 million was brought into the local economy through tourist spending. The tourism industry supported 16,300 jobs.[19]

Pembrokeshire's beaches have been awarded many International Blue Flag Awards (10 in 2014[20]), as well as 47 Green Coast Awards (15 in 2011) and 106 Seaside Awards (31 in 2011.[21][22] In 2011 it also had 39 beaches recommended by the Marine Conservation Society.


Comprehensive online coverage of sport in Pembrokeshire is provided by PembrokeshireSport, an independent website edited by Bill Carne, which typically generates over seventeen thousand page-loads per week.

Narberth is home to Radio Pembrokeshire, Radio Carmarthenshire and Scarlet FM broadcasting to 100,000 listeners every week.[23]

A new voluntary media organisation called Cleddau Community Media began in Pembroke Dock in 2004. Since then the company has broadcast three community radio pilot broadcasts from custom built studios in Llanreath under the name.

There are seven local newspapers based in Pembrokeshire: the Western Telegraph (the largest in Pembrokeshire), The Milford Mercury, Tenby Observer, Pembroke Observer, County Echo and The Pembrokeshire Herald (founded 2013[24]). The Milford Mercury (circulation 3,681) and Western Telegraph (circulation 19,582) are part of the Newsquest group. Pembrokeshire's Best Magazine was launched in 2011.[25]


As the national sport of Wales, rugby union is widely played throughout the county at both town and village level. Haverfordwest RFC, for example, founded in 1875, is a feeder club for Llanelli Scarlets and won the WRU Division Three West league in 2011/12. Village team Crymych RFC won the previous year and in 2014 plays in WRU Division One West.[26]

Triathlon event Ironman Wales was hosted by Pembrokeshire for the third year running in 2013, contributing an estimated £4 million to the local economy.[27] Ras Beca, a mixed road, fell and cross country race attracting UK-wide competitors, has been held in the Preseli Mountains annually since 1977. The record of 32 minutes 5 seconds has stood since 1995.[28] Pembrokeshire Harriers athletics club was formed in 2001 by the amalgamation of Cleddau Athletic Club (established 1970) and Preseli Harriers (1989) and is based in Haverfordwest.[29]

In April 2014 the third annual Tour of Pembrokeshire road-cycling event took place over 50, 75 or 100 miles in north west Pembrokeshire.[30][31] Part of Route 47 of the Celtic Trail cycle route is in Pembrokeshire.

Abereiddy's Blue Lagoon was the venue for a round of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in 2012 and 2013.

While not at major league level, cricket is played throughout the county and many villages such as Lamphey, Creselly, Llangwm, Llechryd and Crymych field teams in minor leagues under the umbrella of the Cricket Board of Wales.


The University of the Third Age (U3A) provides musical appreciation as a subject, but suffers from the library service not having a catalogue of the CDs in stock.[32]

Tenby Museum holds exhibitions of crafts, photographs and works of art by locals.[33]

Notable people

Sarah Waters, novelist
See also Category:People from Pembrokeshire

Henry Tudor, later Henry VII, was born in Pembrokeshire.

Lieutenant General Sir Thomas Picton GCB, born in Haverfordwest, was the most senior officer to die at the Battle of Waterloo.

Jemima Nicholas, heroine of the so-called "last invasion of Britain" in 1797, was from Fishguard.

The artistic siblings Gwen and Augustus John were both born in Pembrokeshire. Graham Sutherland painted locally in the 1930s, gaining inspiration from the landscape.

The novelist Sarah Waters was born and raised in Pembrokeshire.


The flag of Pembrokeshire consists of a yellow cross on a blue field. In the centre of the cross is a green pentagon bearing a red and white Tudor rose. The rose is divided quarterly and counterchanged: the inner and outer roses have alternating red and white quarters.[34][35]

Filming location

Pembrokeshire's coastal landscape has made it a popular location choice for television and film. In recent years, several notable films have been filmed in the county.

Year Title Location
1940 The Thief of Bagdad Whitesands Beach
1956 Moby Dick Fishguard
1961 Fury at Smugglers' Bay Abereiddy
1968 The Lion In Winter Pembroke Castle, Marloes Sands, Milford Haven
1972 Under Milk Wood Fishguard
1977 Jabberwocky Pembroke Castle & Bosherston
1984 Sword of the Valiant Bosherston
1994 Dragonworld Manorbier
1998 Basil Tenby, Manorbier, Bosherston
2003 Baltic Storm Fishguard
2003 I Capture The Castle Manorbier Castle
2003 I'll Sleep When I'm Dead Haverfordwest & Fishguard
2008 The Edge of Love Tenby & Laugharne
2010 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Freshwater West
2010 Robin Hood Freshwater West
2010 Third Star Barafundle Bay, Stackpole Estate
2011 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Freshwater West
2012 Snow White & the Huntsman Marloes Sands
2014 Under Milk Wood Solva

Places of interest


Preseli Hills

Visitor attractions

Historical places

St. David's Cathedral


Barafundle Beach

See also


  1. ^ "2011 Census". Retrieved 8 Dec 2013. 
  2. ^ Pembrokeshire Coast Path at. Retrieved on 9 October 2011.
  3. ^ "Pembroke Coast National Park - River Cresswell". Retrieved 21 June 2014. 
  4. ^ "Dyfed Archaeological Trust - Preseli". Retrieved 21 June 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Davies, John, A History of Wales, Penguin, 1994, foundations of pgs 17,19, 43, Migration of the Desi into Demetia, page 52 Demetia 17, 30, 34, ruling house of 52, 72, 85, 87, and the Vikings pages 85, relations with Alfred of Wessex, page 85, and the Vikings/Northmen page 98, and the Normans 106, 112, 114
  6. ^ Warner, Philip, Famous Welsh Battles, pg 79, 1997, Barnes and Noble, INC.
  7. ^ Royle, Trevor. Civil War: The War of the Three Kingdoms 1638-1660. Abacus, 2005. p.437-38
  8. ^ "A Guide to the Military Heritage of Pembrokeshire". Retrieved 22 June 2014. 
  9. ^ "Pembrokeshire has 'thousands' of undiscovered wrecks - diver". BBC. 26 October 2014. Retrieved 6 December 2014. 
  10. ^ Wood, Bruce. The Process of Local Government Reform: 1966–1974. 1976.
  11. ^ AM calls for A40 funds Western Telegraph – 9 November 2006
  12. ^ a b "Pembrokeshire Virtual Museum - The Fishing Industry". Retrieved 11 October 2014. 
  13. ^ "Pembrokeshire Fish Week". Retrieved 11 October 2014. 
  14. ^ "Pembrokeshire Fish Week". Wales Online. 3 June 2014. Retrieved 11 October 2014. 
  15. ^ "Why fish are proving to be Pembrokeshire's newest tourism asset". Wales Online. 28 November 2014. Retrieved 3 December 2014. 
  16. ^ Tucker, G & M (1983). The old slate industry of Pembrokeshire and other parts of South Wales. National Library of Wales journal, Vol.XXIII/2. 
  17. ^ "Pembrokeshire Virtual Museum - Coal Mining". Retrieved 29 Apr 2014. 
  18. ^ "Angle Bay BP oil terminal and pumping station, Popton, Milford Haven". Coflein. Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales. 14 April 2010. Retrieved 1 August 2012. 
  19. ^ "£544 million Pembrokeshire tourism boost". Retrieved 7 November 2014. 
  20. ^ "Blue flags fly over Pembrokeshire beaches". Western Telegraph. 13 June 2014. Retrieved 14 June 2014. 
  21. ^ - Pembrokeshire beaches Retrieved 19 December 2011
  22. ^ Pembrokeshire (Annual Guide), Pembrokeshire Tourism, 2011
  23. ^ Media titles owned by Town & Country Broadcasting. Media UK. Retrieved on 9 October 2011.
  24. ^ "Third new local newspaper launched in Wales". BBC. 5 July 2013. Retrieved 7 November 2014. 
  25. ^ "Pembrokeshire's Best Magazine". 
  26. ^ "SWALEC League: 1 West". Retrieved 25 Apr 2014. 
  27. ^ "Athletes pump £4million into Welsh economy". 24 Apr 2014. Retrieved 25 Apr 2014. 
  28. ^ "All set for Beca event". Tivyside Advertiser. 13 August 2014. Retrieved 14 August 2014. 
  29. ^ "Pembrokeshire Harriers - Club history". Retrieved 14 August 2014. 
  30. ^ "Cyclists brave the conditions on another successful Tour of Pembrokeshire (Western Telegraph)". 26 Apr 2014. Retrieved 26 Apr 2014. 
  31. ^ "2014 Tour of Pembrokeshire". Retrieved 25 Apr 2014. 
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^ UK Flag Registry. (6 July 2010). Retrieved on 9 October 2011.
  35. ^ (27 May 2011). Retrieved on 9 October 2011.

External links

  • Pembrokeshire at DMOZ
  • Pembrokeshire county council
  • Pembrokeshire County Council Local Studies Collection - downloadable booklet
  • Visit Pembrokeshire (official council tourism website)
  • Pembrokeshire Coast National Park
  • (comprehensive reporting of the county's sports)
  • Pembrokeshire Online (independent tourism website)

Further reading

  • Dillon, Myles, The Irish settlements in Wales, Celtica 12, 1977, pp. 1–11
  • Fenton, Richard, A historical tour through Pembrokeshire. Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme &Co, 1811
  • James, J. Ivor, Molleston Baptist Church-Reflections on the Founders' Tercentenary, V.G. Lodwick & Sons Ltd., Carmarthen, 1968
  • Lloyd, Thomas; Orbach, Julian and Scourfield, Robert, Pembrokeshire - The buildings of Wales, Yale University Press, 2004. ISBN 9780300101782

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