Piracy in Pembrokeshire

There are many links to piracy in Pembrokeshire history, from early pillaging trips by Vikings through to the renowned pirates Captain Henry Morgan and Paul Jones using Caldey Island as a mooring point.

For example, along the coast to the east of the farm is the tiny chapel of St Govan, built by the hermit after he was miraculously saved. He reputedly landed at the little cove, hotly pursued by pirates. God opened a large boulder that was on the rocky beach, and told Govan to hide inside. Overcoming his fear, Govan did so – only for God to close the rock around him. The pirates landed soon after, and searched the cove thoroughly, but to no avail: Govan was nowhere to be seen. Once they had sailed away, God re-opened the boulder & freed Govan, who then dedicated his life to his saviour and built the tiny chapel on the side of the boulder… which still shows the distinctive shape of his ribs & head.

Whether you believe the legend of St Govan or not, history also shows that the man who brought trade in the West Indies to a standstill, “Black Bart” (Bartholemew Edwards), came from Little Newcastle in Pembrokeshire. He was the most successful pirate of the Golden Age of Piracy, and captured far more ships than some of the best-known pirates of this era such as Blackbeard and Captain Kidd: he’s estimated to have captured over 470 vessels and collected £80 million in treasure, as well as being the inventor of the ‘Pirate code’. Whilst popular culture may have largely forgotten the originally-reluctant pirate, he’s mentioned in print in “Treasure Island”, and the character of “Dread Pirate Roberts” in the film ” The Princess Bride” is named after him too.

If this has given you the urge to create your own pirate moments, we’d suggest you take a trip down the ladder at Stackpole Quay, over to the wooden landing point in the second side cove at West Angle Bay, or set sail to capture one of the more inaccessible coves and beaches around the mouth of Milford Haven & other remote parts of Pembrokeshire. Pirate flag recommended!

Leave a Reply