The secrets buried beneath Pembroke Castle

Archaeologists are planning to excavate inside Pembroke Castle.

In 2013 aerial photography around the county revealed all sorts of archeologically interesting features owing to a dry weather period that left parch marks in the grass indicating underlying masonry and disturbances. In Pembroke Castle this was further confirmed by geophysical surveys, using sensing equipment to map the features beneath the surface in 2016.

Mr Ludlow from Dyfed Archaeological Trust said: “The geophysical survey carried out in Pembroke Castle, funded by the Castle Studies Trust, showed a large, winged building that resembles, in plan, a late-medieval manor house. This is an unusual find within a castle, and has additional significance at Pembroke as the possible birthplace of King Henry VII. But this is still guesswork, as nothing else about the building is known. All we really know is that it was excavated in the 1930s without records. Thanks to the support of the Castle Studies Trust, some of these questions will be answered as well as learning more about later medieval high-status living.”PEMBROKE CASTLE

This is thought to be a property built by Jasper; it is likely that Margaret Beaufort gave birth to her son in the house owing to the building being more comfortable than the old castle rooms and towers. Henry was born there on January 28, 1457. His father, Edmund Tudor, had died two months before his birth to his 14-year-old mother. This Welsh-born English king ended three decades of dynastic wars by marrying Elizabeth of York and brought prosperity back to the country.

Little research has been done on Henry Tudor’s birthplace, but experts looking for the remains of the late-medieval manor house will be excavating the outer bailey or ward by digging two trenches which they hope will help them understand more about the form, date, context and function of the remains.

Interestingly, this dig will have some resonance here in Tenby, owing to the fact that Jasper was the Earl of Pembroke responsible for having the walls of Tenby built up to their current height, for the parapet walk and the digging of a dry ditch around the walls. Also, it is said that he escaped to Brittany from Tenby with his 14-year-old ward Henry on one of the mayors’ boats!