Historic Solva: Warpool Court Hotel’s Peter Trier Digs In

According to Warpool Court Hotel owner Peter Trier, "Amateur and professional geologists interested in Wales' geology find that in west Wales, Solva is of particular interest because of the layers of sedimentary rock."

Little more than a stone's throw from St. David's in a deep valley at the mouth of the River Solva, on the north side of St. Bride's Bay, is the village of Solva and its harbour.

Solva's harbor is the result of a drowned river valley open to the sea, rather than formed by glacial melt. Solva is comprised of Lower and Upper Solva; Lower Solva is located in the valley on a long street ending at the harbour while Upper Solva sits on the cliff at the west of the harbor.

As with many destinations along Pembrokeshire Coast, rocks distinguish the area from others. Rocks at the entrance to Solva Harbour make it one of the most sheltered inlets along the coast. Those in Solva Harbour contain fossils from the Cambrian period, from about 541 million years ago to 485.4 million years ago. This specific timeframe was labeled the "Cambrian Series" by Adam Sedgwick, a priest considered one of the founders of modern geology. He named it after Cambria, the Latin name of Wales. The soil preserves both soft parts of organisms as well as their shells.

Travelers can go on the hunt for the remains of megalithic burial chamber tombs - upright stones, some still bearing a vertical capstone from the Stone Age dating from 2500-3000 BC.

Solva became the main trading centre of St Bride's Bay, and its importance as a shipping port grew from the 5th to 18th centuries. As in other areas of Pembrokeshire, for centuries Solva's acidic soils have been mixed with quicklime, to reduce acidity and make the land more fertile. Four kilns remain on the east side of the harbour; at the end of the seventeenth century, Solva had 10 kilns in use. While other methods to improve the soil were explored, such as incorporating seaweed or sand from the Sand Quay in Solva harbour, limestone became the primary method of improving farm yield. Limestone rock was sourced from the south and arrived by boat. Rock was broken, transferred to lime kilns, burnt to produce quicklime, and the resulting product distributed across fields to further react chemically to rain to form slaked lime.

In the nineteenth century, Solva had around 30 registered trading ships. Population growth resulted in establishment of five new chapels between 1798 and 1864: Zion Chapel ("Capel Ucha") in 1798, Wesleyan Methodist Chapel (now Solva Memorial Hall) in 1812, Calvinistic Methodist Chapel in 1815, Baptist ("Capel Bach") in 1816, Mount Pleasant in 1864, St. Aidan's Church in 1879, and Capel y Cwm in 1887.

In 1925, a large stone was brought to St. Aiden's church from St. Elvis farm, a mile and a half away. The stone could be an older, prehistoric stone. Called "Maen Dewi," the stone has been associated with St. David, the patron saint of Wales, and was standing beside the second entrance to the farm without anyone taking much note of it. It is believed the stone was originally placed beside St. Aelbyw's holy well at St. Elvis farm, the well where St. David was baptised as a baby about 500 AD.  The stone is believed to contain an early Christinanized, pre-Norman inscribed ring cross, 8'x16'. The inscription depicts a thin linear cross, concentrated within a round circle, with the lower arm extending down.

In 2001, licensing laws changed and St. Aiden's church held its first ever wedding, with just 44 guests.

While it bears the village's name, Solva Woollen Mill is located in Middle Mill village. The mill is open to visitors who can view the looms at work creating carpets and rugs; the mill claims to be the oldest continuously working woollen mill in Pembrokeshire.

Events visitors may want to confirm the availability of viewing an annual Duck Race for Charity on Solva River, traditionally held on Easter Monday, and Solva Regatta for adults and children in summer. Low tide rock pools in the harbour provide opportunities for crabbing.

More historic information is available at National Trust web site:


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