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Flag of Pembrokeshire.svg
Located within the modern administrative boundaries of Wales
Located within the modern administrative boundaries of Wales
Admin HQ Haverfordwest
 • Type Arms of Pembrokeshire
Pembrokeshire Council
 • Total 1,590 km2 (610 sq mi)
Area rank Ranked 5th
 • Total 123,500
 • Rank Ranked 13th
 • Density 76/km2 (200/sq mi)
 • Ethnicity
99.2% White
Welsh language
 • Rank Ranked 8th
 • Any skills 29.4%
Geocode 00NS (ONS)
W06000009 (GSS)
ISO 3166 code GB-PEM

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 the Brecon Beacons. Over the years Pembrokeshire's beaches have been received many International Blue Flag Awards, Green Coast Awards and Seaside Awards. In 2011 it had 39 beaches recommended by the Marine Conservation Society.

Industry is nowadays focused on agriculture and tourism, but historically mining and fishing were important activities. The county has a diverse geography and a complex history.

Pembrokeshire's population was 122,400 at the 2011 census, an increase of 7.2% from the 2001 figure of 114,131.


Pembrokeshire is bordered by the sea on three sides, and by the counties of Ceredigion to the north east and Carmarthenshire to the east.


The county town is Haverfordwest. Other towns include Pembroke, Pembroke Dock, Milford Haven, Fishguard, Tenby, Saundersfoot, Narberth, Neyland and Newport. St David's, in the west of the county, is the United Kingdom's smallest city with a population of 2,000 (in 2010). Saundersfoot is the biggest village in Pembrokeshire with a population of well over 2,500.

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


The county's coastline includes 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. A large estuary and natural harbour at Milford Haven cuts deeply into the coast; this inlet is formed by the confluence of the Western Cleddau (which goes through Haverfordwest), the Eastern Cleddau, and rivers Cresswell and Carew. The estuary is bridged by the large Cleddau Bridge (toll bridge) which carries the A477 between Neyland and Pembroke Dock; upstream bridges span 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.

Geology and landscape

Pembrokeshire's diverse range of geological features was a key factor in the establishment of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and a number of sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs).

Rocks now found in Pembrokeshire were formed more than 290 million years ago; the youngest rocks, from the Carboniferous period, contain the Pembrokeshire Coalfield, the older rocks being Pre-Cambrian. Younger rocks have been lost by subsequent geological processes. The land on which Pembrokeshire is today was established approximately 60 million years ago by a combination of uplift and falling sea levels. The sea cliffs and inland tors that are now a feature of the county were those that were resistant to weathering that has taken place since. The landscape was subject to considerable change as a result of the ice ages over the last several thousand years, meltwater from which cut the river valleys seen across the county today. About 20,000 years ago the Irish Sea ice sheet deposited areas of clays. While Pembrokeshire is not a seismically active area, two periods of activity were noted in the 19th century. In 1873 there was a double shock (intensity: 4) in the west of the county, and a series of more pronounced activity (maximum intensity: 7) over a six-day period in August 1892.

Carningli from Pentre Ifan - - 536973
Preseli Hills

In the north of the county are the Preseli Hills (Mynydd Preseli), a wide stretch of high moorland supporting sheep farming and some forestry, with many prehistoric sites and the probable source of the bluestones used in the construction of the inner circle of Stonehenge in England. The highest point is Foel Cwmcerwyn at 1,759 feet (536 m), which is also the highest point in Pembrokeshire. Elsewhere in the county most of the land is used for farming of dairy cows, arable crops, oil seed rape, and the well-known Pembrokeshire potato.


Pembrokeshire's wildlife is diverse, with marine, estuary, ancient woodland, moorland and farmland habitats all within the county. The response to an appeal for otter sightings in 2014 yielded more than 100 sightings. Seals whales, dolphins and porpoises can be seen frequently off the Pembrokeshire coast.


Pentre Ifan burial chamber - - 384085
Pentre Ifan neolithic burial chamber

Human habitation of the region of Pembrokeshire extends back to 125,000 and 70,000 BCE. By the late Roman Empire period, an Irish tribe known as the Déisi settled in the region between 350 and 400, with their realm known as Demetae. In the post-Roman period, the Irish Déisi merged with the local Welsh, with the regional name underlying Demetae evolving into Dyfed, which existed as an independent petty kingdom until its heiress, Elen, married Hywel Dda in 904. Hywel merged Dyfed with his own maternal inheritance of Seisyllwg, forming the new realm of Deheubarth ("southern district"). 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.

Middle Ages

Pembroke Castle - June 2011
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. The region became known as Pembroke (sometimes archaic "Penbroke"), after the Norman castle built in the cantref of Penfro. In 1136 Prince Owain Gwynedd sought to avenge the execution of his sister, Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd, and her children; with Gwenllian's husband the Prince Rhys, he swept down from Gwynedd with a formidable army, and at Crug Mawr near Cardigan met and destroyed a 3,000-strong Norman/Flemish army. The remnants of the Normans fled across the bridge at Cardigan which collapsed and the Teifi river is said to have been choked with drowned men-at-arms and horses. Owain's brother Cadwallader took de Clare's 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 is one of the best-remembered victims.

In 1138 the county of Pembrokeshire was named as a county palatine. Rhys ap Gruffydd, Gwenllian's son, re-established Welsh control over much of the region and threatened to retake all of Pembrokeshire, but died in 1197. After Deheubarth was split by a dynastic feud, Llywelyn the Great almost succeeded in retaking the region of Pembroke between 1216 and his death in 1240.

In 1457 Henry Tudor was born at Pembroke Castle. He landed an army not far from his birthplace 28 years later in 1485; he rallied support, marched to Leicestershire and defeated the larger army of Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field. As Henry VII of England, he founded the House of Tudor, a dynasty that ruled England until 1603.

The Laws in Wales Act 1535 divided the county into hundreds, which followed with some modifications the boundaries of the cantrefi, ancient jurisdictions which went back to before the Norman conquest. The hundreds were (clockwise from the northeast): Cilgerran or Kilgerran, Cemais or Kemes, Dewisland or Dewsland, Roose, Castlemartin, Narberth and Dungleddy (Daugleddau). Each hundred was divided into a number of civil parishes.

During the First English Civil War (1642–1646) the county gave strong support to the Roundheads (Parliamentarians), in sharp contrast to the rest of Wales, which was staunchly Cavalier (Royalist). In spite of this an incident in Pembrokeshire triggered the opening shots of the Second English Civil War when local units of the New Model Army mutinied. Oliver Cromwell defeated the uprising at the Siege of Pembroke in July 1648. On 13 August 1649 the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland began when its forces sailed from Milford Haven.

Modern period

In 1791 a petition was presented to the House of Commons concerning the poor state of many of the county's roads, pointing out that repairs could not be made compulsory by the law as it stood. The petition was referred to committee.

There has been considerable military activity in Pembrokeshire in the 20th century: for example, military exercises in the Preseli Hills and a number of former military airfields. Military and industrial targets in the county were subjected to bombing during World War II.

Ancient remains

20100614-DSC 1535
St. David's Cathedral

Pembrokeshire has numerous prehistoric (such as Pentre Ifan) and historic places, including a number of almost-complete and ruined castles dating from Norman times. Other important sites include Big House, Penrhos Cottage, Slebech Park, St David's Cathedral and Strumble Head Lighthouse.

There are many known shipwrecks off the Pembrokeshire coast. The county has six lifeboat stations, the earliest of which was established in 1822; in 2015 a quarter of all Royal National Lifeboat Institution Welsh rescues took place off the Pembrokeshire coast.



Pembrokeshire's population was 122,400 at the 2011 census, an increase of 7.2% from the 2001 figure of 114,131.


Welsh speakers in the 2011 census
Proportion of Welsh speakers (2011 census)

As a result of differential immigration over hundreds of years, the south of the county has more English-speaking inhabitants, while Welsh is more widely spoken in the north. The rough line that can be drawn between the two regions, illustrated by the map (right), is known as the Landsker Line. The first objective, statistically based description of the "frontier" was made in the 1960s, but the distinction was remarked upon as early as 1603 by George Owen of Henllys.


The main towns in the county are covered by regular bus and train services, and many villages by local bus services, or community or education transport.

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. The A40 crosses Pembrokeshire from the border with Carmarthenshire westwards to Haverfordwest, then northwards to Fishguard. The road is used heavily by tourists and traffic from the ferry port at Fishguard; some improvements have been made since the 1990s but others were still the subject of discussion in 2014. The A477 which runs from St. Clears to Pembroke Dock is 24 miles (39 km) long, of which only 2 miles (3 km) are dual carriageway. The road has been improved 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 boundary with Ceredigion at Cardigan. Owing to width restrictions in Fishguard, some freight vehicles are not permitted to travel north-east from Fishguard but must take a longer route via Haverfordwest and Narberth. The B4329 former turnpike runs from Eglwyswrw in the north to Haverfordwest across the Preseli Mountains.

The West Wales 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 Stena Line ferry to and from Rosslare Europort in Ireland at Fishguard Harbour. From Rosslare Europort, trains connect with Dublin Connolly run by Iarnród Éireann on the Dublin–Rosslare railway line. Irish Ferries run from Pembroke Dock to Rosslare Europort and seasonal ferry services operate from Tenby to Caldey Island, from St Justinians, St Davids, to Ramsey Island and Grassholm Island, and from Martin's Haven to Skomer Island. Haverfordwest (Withybush) Airport provides general aviation services. Pembrokeshire is connected via the West Wales Lines to Swansea and from there by the main line to Cardiff and Paddington. Direct trains from Milford Haven run to Manchester Piccadilly.



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.


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). 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. Narberth is home to Radio Pembrokeshire, Radio Carmarthenshire and Scarlet FM broadcasting to listeners every week.

Postal Addresses

In 2009, the question of county names and Royal Mail postal addresses was raised in parliament; it was argued that Royal Mail's continued use of the county address Dyfed was causing concern and confusion in the Pembrokeshire business community.


As the national sport of Wales, rugby union is widely played throughout the county at both town and village level. Haverfordwest RFC ,founded in 1875, is a feeder club for Llanelli Scarlets. Village team Crymych RFC in 2014 plays in WRU Division One West.

Triathlon event Ironman Wales was hosted by Pembrokeshire for the third year running in 2013, contributing an estimated £4 million to the local economy. 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. 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.

The annual Tour of Pembrokeshire road-cycling event takes place over 50, 75 or 100 miles. The 4th Tour, in April 2015, attracted 1,600 riders including Olympic gold medallist Chris Boardman and there were 1,500 entrants to the 2016 event. Part of Route 47 of the Celtic Trail cycle route is in Pembrokeshire. The Llys y Fran Hillclimb is an annual event run by Swansea Motor Club.

Abereiddy's Blue Lagoon was the venue for a round of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in 2012, 2013 and 2016; the Welsh Surfing Federation has held the Welsh National Surfing Championships at Freshwater West for several years and Llys y Fran Country Park hosted the Welsh Dragonboat Championships from 2014 to 2016.

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.


See also: Cuisine of Pembrokeshire

Pembrokeshire is well known for its excellent food, having capitalised on the quality of its agricultural produce. This abundance of produce and food outlets means that the county can "satisfy even the pickiest palate". In 2013 the Pembrokeshire Early Potato was awarded Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status by the European Commission.

Notable people

Sarah Waters2
Sarah Waters
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.

In the arts, 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 brought up in Pembrokeshire and actors Rhys Ifans and Christian Bale were born in Withybush Hospital in the county. Singers Duffy and Connie Fisher both grew up in Pembrokeshire.

Stephen Crabb, former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and Secretary of State for Wales, was brought up in Pembrokeshire and represents the county as one of its two Members of Parliament.

Filming location

Pembrokeshire's coastal landscape and wealth of historic buildings has made it a popular location choice for television and film, including Moby Dick at Fishguard in 1956 and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at Freshwater West in 2010. Others include (click on "show" to see the full list):

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