Castle With a Cave: Warpool Court Hotel’s Peter Trier Highlights Features
With more than 200 castles in Wales, it’s the place to visit if you love history. Castles must have truly remarkable features to distinguish themselves from each other. In the case of Pembroke Castle, a feature that stands out is an amazing natural cave below its foundation called Wogan Cavern.
Use of Wogan Cavern predates the castle’s medieval fortifications, possibly dating back to Roman times. Wogan likely comes from the Welsh word "ogof", which means “cave”. To access the cave, you use a spiral staircase within the castle, built half in the rock and half in an exterior turret, descending 55 steps into the large subterranean limestone room. Located at river level, the cave entrance was blocked by a massive stone wall with a large door. While it was fortified with arrow slits for defence, the cave was likely used as a boathouse by Normans for loading and unloading ships on the river.
“Pembroke Castle is a great place to learn about different aspects of history,” says Warpool Court Hotel owner Peter Trier. “Plan for a full day of exploration.”
Located in the town centre on a rocky promontory overlooking Milford Haven, the castle was founded in 1093. It was constructed as a Norman motte and bailey of earth and timber, and it was subjected to Welsh attacks. The stone structure visible today was put into place in 1189. Harri Tudur, the first of the Tudor monarchs and who became Henry VII, was believed to have been born in the tower in 1457. The castle underwent restoration in the early 20th century. Pembroke Castle is the largest privately-owned castle in all of Wales. Included in the admission fee is a guided tour, run daily. Usually reserved for larger groups, private tours or after-hours private ghost tours can be arranged.
Beyond its historical significance, Pembroke Castle houses the largest map of Wales in the world. The Great Map identifies the location of every important castle and religious landmark in Wales.
You’ll find engaging presentations throughout the castle. Video rooms provide history about each of the castle's five Earls of Pembroke. You’ll also meet characters who would have lived and worked in the castle hundreds of years ago via apps available on your smartphone or tablet.
Main Exhibition Rooms in the Gatehouse showcase sculpted figures, mural paintings, graphic panels, a triggered audio sequence and more to recreate important scenes in the Castle's history. Dramatic exhibitions depict the Civil War and a medieval banquet. Replica models of Pembroke Castle demonstrate how the Castle was constructed and developed.
Many people are interested in the 13th century medieval dungeon tower, which was meant to house prisoners who could be locked away and forgotten.
Next to the Castle’s Gift Shop in the Hall of Names, you can view the origins and history of your family name free of charge. Look up your surname in the archives which contain more than a million family names from many nationalities.
For a small fee during school holidays and summer, you can have a go at making your own brass rubbings, with materials and instruction included. Other events hosted at Pembroke Castle include tournaments, activities and music events like Rock the Castle.