Pembroke – city defensive walls

History

The stone town walls in Pembroke were erected at the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries, however, they were preceded by fortifications from the 12th century, which surrounded a small area between the castle and the parish church of the St. Mary. At the beginning of the 13th century, when the suburbs of the sprawling settlement were created, fortifications were extended to the church of St. Michael. Both of these early fortified circuits were probably of timber and earth constructions. Only works from the turn of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries surrounded the whole town with a stone circuit of fortifications. It was repaired and partly rebuilt in the fifteenth century, but the destruction and final demolition brought to the walls the English civil war of the seventeenth century.

Architecture

The town walls of Pembroke were established on a longitudinal, polygon plan on the east-west axis with a marked narrowing in the middle. The area covered by the walls was about 850 meters long and at most 240 meters wide. The perimeter was reinforced with at least six towers. The eastern part, the most distant from the castle, was fortified most. On the north – east side there were two cylindrical towers, and three on the south – east. A single tower was placed in the south-western part of the fortifications. The corner, north-eastern tower, called the Bernard’s Tower, is currently the best preserved element of the fortifications. It was erected on a circular plan with a diameter of almost 9 meters with a wall of 2.1 meters thick. It had three floors, an external latrine on massive corbels, and a fireplace inside to serve as living quarters during peacetime. Interestingly, it was closed with a portcullis and perhaps it had a small drawbridge leading to the defensive wall, which could make it a separate resistance point. Three gates led to the city: the Western Gate located to the south of the castle, in close proximity to it, the Water Gate located east of the castle and the most distant, Eastern Gate.

Current state

Fragments of defensive walls have survived in the southern and south-eastern part of the old town, where relics of two towers are also visible, one of which is superstructured with an aerly modern construction. Another longer fragment of fortifications is visible in the north-eastern part of the circuit, where two towers have been preserved, including the so-called Bernard’s Tower. Only a part of the Western Gate has survived of the town gates.

show Bernard’s Tower on map

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bibliography:
Kenyon J., The medieval castles of Wales, Cardiff 2010.
Website gatehouse-gazetteer.info, Pembroke Town Walls.
Website wikipedia.org, Pembroke town walls.