Pembroke! nicknamed the Invincible castle, for despite many many attacks and sieges by my fellow countrymen, it was never taken. Time and again, down through the centuries, the Princes of Wales committed their forces against this castle on the western seaboard, all to no avail, for this fortress seemed to be part of the rock upon which it sits. However, having said that it did fall towards the end of its useful life, the reason was the same as Caerphilly -- Gunpowder during the English civil war.
The story of Pembroke castle however, goes far back beyond the coming of the Norman, as the site upon which the castle stands has been used at one time or another for the last 12,000 years. The vast cavern underneath the site, called The Wogan has been used by cave dwellers during the Ice Age, late Bronze Age and the Iron Age, for evidence of tools and coins have been found in it. It is also possible that an Iron Age fort was situated upon the mound that the castle sits.
It was the Norman Roger de Montgomery, after his creation as the Earl of Shrewsbury by his cousin William the Conqueror in 1071, that recognized the potential of the site during his invasion of Wales.. Arriving at Pembroke by way of Aberystwyth and Cardigan ahead of a large army, he immediately ordered the construction of large a wooden castle to begin, Being surrounded by the sea on three sides, the castle on its completion, not only helped its garrison to defend the area but also to deny the way into Wales by an invading army using the haven of Milford.
Lord Roger's reign over Pembroke ceased when he took it upon himself to wear the shroud of death and the castle was left to his youngest son Arnulf in 1094. It was he who developed the area and created a Marcher lordship. Arnulf also established a Benedictine Priory at Monkton, however, with other lands in Yorkshire and other places, it was left to Arnulf's steward Gerald de Windsor to run the lordship and the castle. His stewardship was severally tested when a Welsh army advanced on Pembroke and set siege to it. After many weeks, and with his garrison virtual on the verge of starvation, Gerald collected all the food he could find and threw it over the castle walls, the Welsh troops who were nearly at death door from the lack of food themselves decided that if Gerald could throw food over the walls to them then he must be getting revitled from the sea and had a large store. After promptly gathering the food they lifted the siege and marched away. O if they had only known
Gerald started a courtship with a discarded mistress of King Henry
1 and was actively encouraged to do so. Nest the daughter of Rhys ap Tewdwr, who was killed in battle against the Norman
Bernard de Newmarch
at Brecon, was a beautiful woman and Gerald spent much of his time fighting against her would be lovers. Nest outlived Gerald and went on to have numerous affairs, two such were with Odo and Hait
, both being Sheriff of Pembroke in turn .