Tenby Castle was a fortification standing on a headland separated by an isthmus from the town of Tenby. The castle, which was sited on a rocky promontory, was founded by the Normans during their invasion of West Wales in the 12th century. A stone tower was built on the headland's highest point which was protected by a curtain wall. The walls had a gateway and several small towers on the landward side. A lesser sea wall surrounded the remainder of the site and the beach area to the west.
In 1153, the castle was captured and destroyed by Welsh. The castle was besieged again by the Welsh in 1187. Almost a century later, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd (prince of Gwynedd, and son of Gruffudd ap Llywelyn) sacked the town during his campaigns to retake South Wales in 1260 but the castle was not taken by the Welsh.
By the late 13th century, Tenby castle and the town had become part of the Marcher Lordship of Pembroke, which by then was ruled by William de Valence, 1st Earl of Pembroke. The French knight, who was married to the Joan de Munchensi, the granddaughter and heir of the previous Earl of Pembroke, had provided military service to Henry III in the Second Barons' War. He instigated the building of stone walls around the town. By the start of the 14th century, the Tenby town walls were mostly completed so diminishing the defensive importance of Tenby Castle. In 1328, they were further strengthened when a D-shaped barbican was built to defend the town's main gate and additional D-shaped towers were later added to the northern and southern walls. By the 1400s, the line of Earls had died out, and Tenby castle was abandoned and in disrepair.
In 1457, King Henry VI gave the Marcher Lordship (and associated Earldom) to Jasper Tudor, his half-brother, who agreed to refurbish and improve Tenby's defences by dividing the cost between himself and the town's merchants. Improvements included widening the dry ditch along the outside of the town walls to 9.1 m. Raising the wall's height to include a second tier of higher arrow slits behind a new parapet walk and adding additional turret towers to the ends of the walls where they abutted the cliff edges.
In the mid 16th century, another large D-shaped tower (named the 'Five Arches') was built in the Elizabethan period following fears about a second Spanish Armada.
In 1648 during the Second English Civil War, a unit of Royalists under the command of Rice Powell held a refortified Tenby for 10 weeks until they were starved into surrendering by besieging Parliamentarians.
A few features of the medieval castle remain. A path from Tenby harbour to the top of Castle Hill passes through the main square gateway. On the summit of the promontory is a small tower. A circular walk which was laid out in the 19th century follows the line of the original curtain walls. Tenby Museum & Art Gallery is built on the remains of the castle's domestic building, probably the great hall.
Although the north gate has been demolished to widen the road, Tenby town walls on the north side are largely complete. The eastern walls and towers remain intact.References:
Kirkjubøargarður ('Yard of Kirkjubøur', also known as King"s Farm) is one of the oldest still inhabited wooden houses of the world. The farm itself has always been the largest in the Faroe Islands. The old farmhouse dates back to the 11th century. It was the episcopal residence and seminary of the Diocese of the Faroe Islands, from about 1100. Sverre I of Norway (1151–1202), grew up here and went to the priest school. The legend says, that the wood for the block houses came as driftwood from Norway and was accurately bundled and numbered, just for being set up. Note, that there is no forest in the Faroes and wood is a very valuable material. Many such wood legends are thus to be found in Faroese history.
The oldest part is a so-called roykstova (reek parlour, or smoke room). Perhaps it was moved one day, because it does not fit to its foundation. Another ancient room is the loftstovan (loft room). It is supposed that Bishop Erlendur wrote the 'Sheep Letter' here in 1298. This is the earliest document of the Faroes we know today. It is the statute concerning sheep breeding on the Faroes. Today the room is the farm"s library. The stórastovan (large room) is from a much later date, being built in 1772.
Though the farmhouse is a museum, the 17th generation of the Patursson Family, which has occupied it since 1550, is still living here. Shortly after the Reformation in the Faroe Islands in 1538, all the real estate of the Catholic Church was seized by the King of Denmark. This was about half of the land in the Faroes, and since then called King"s Land (kongsjørð). The largest piece of King"s Land was the farm in Kirkjubøur due to the above-mentioned Episcopal residence. This land is today owned by the Faroese government, and the Paturssons are tenants from generation to generation. It is always the oldest son, who becomes King"s Farmer, and in contrast to the privately owned land, the King"s Land is never divided between the sons.
The farm holds sheep, cattle and some horses. It is possible to get a coffee here and buy fresh mutton and beef directly from the farmer. In the winter season there is also hare hunting for the locals. Groups can rent the roykstovan for festivities and will be served original Faroese cuisine.
Other famous buildings directly by the farmhouse are the Magnus Cathedral and the Saint Olav"s Church, which also date back to the mediaeval period. All three together represent the Faroe Island"s most interesting historical site.