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Newport Pembrokeshire – A Hidden Gem on the North Pembrokeshire Coast

With so many outstanding features and places of interest in Newport it is difficult to know where to start, so I guess beginning at Newport’s roots would be a half decent step in the right direction.
Hidden in the landscape all around and within the town are markers of Newport ancient history. Standing stones, burial chambers, hill forts and stone hut circles are plentiful if you know where to look.

Just a few hundred metres from the town centre the Neolithic dolmen named Carreg Coetan Arthur stands at the edge of a housing development build during the 1970’s. Newport beach pharmacy Carreg Coetan Arthur is an ancient burial portal comprising of four upright stones and a cap stone perched on top of them. The cap stone makes contact with only two of the uprights and this can only be seen under close inspection. The tomb also has a few outer lying stones and was probably erected some 3,500 years BC. Excavations at the site during the 1970’s revealed little evidence. It does however sit in the landscape and mirror many unchanged features of the tundra surrounding it.

Looking south east from Cerrig Coetan Arthur, the eye is drawn to the peak of Carningli Mountain. Known in English as the Mount of Angels it is the tallest most western peak of the Preseli Hills, the birth place of the bluestones found at Stonehenge.

Upon Carningli’s slopes are many standing stones and cairns. Amongst them are Bedd Morris – a solitary standing stone on the western side of the mountain, Carn Cwn (Cairn of Dogs) which hides a rocking stone and also a wishing well and nearby is the infamous Pentre Ifan burial chamber.

Pentre Ifan is probably the best example of a Neolithic dolmen the United Kingdom has to offer. It stands proud on a hillock overlooking the bay at Newport Pembrokeshire and from the right angle mirrors the slopes of Carningli Mountain down to the shore at Newport beach (Traeth Mawr or Big Beach in English). Again dating from dome 3,500 years bc this dolmen has attracted thousands of visitors over the years. Entry is free and there is also a small car park some three hundred meters or so from the monument.

To the west of Newport a group of stones can be found in a field approx one mile along Fishguard Road in a dip on the right. Cerrig Y Gof consists of five cists (small oval burial chambers) and is situated looking directly at the headland of Dinas Island, if you place your self between the chambers and the headland and face south east another view of Carningli Mountain is presented to you.

Carningli mountain has played an important role in Newport’s history, supplying ancient civilisations with defensive outposts, forts and living spaces. Upon its peak are the remains of a bronze age fortification with the skeleton of a huge defensive stone ring still visible some three thousand years after it was built. Outside of this stone ring are many stone hut circles presumably once housing the farmers and trades folk of the time. All across the backbone of Carningli Mountain are cairns and scars laid down by many hands from our ancient past.

Further down the slopes of the mountain can be found the remains of a Norman Castle, now housing a Victorian built house. The best remaining publicly viewable features of the castle are the gate house which can be seen in all their glory from Mill Lane, just above Market Street.

Newport still retains its Norman street layout, with two almost dead straight roads leading from the castle to the river bank of the Nevern River. Between the end of both streets can be found an earth mound which is believed to be the original castle at Newport.

As with all castle’s, Newport Castle has seen its fair share of battles and owners over the years and even in its current ruined state it still retains a dominance over the town below.

Excavations during the early 90’s revealed that the town extended far further north than it does now. Medieval house remains were discovered where the primary school now sits and a plot of land has recently been excavated to the east unearthing further remains of the medieval extent of Newport.

As the modern English name for the town suggests, Newport has a nautical history. In Welsh it is called Trefdraeth (the town on the beach) and the old quay walls at The Parrog are an interesting reminder of this part of the towns history. The Parrog is now mainly a recreational boating area but a hundred and fifty years or so ago it would have been a bustling tidal port. There are remains of three lime kilns on The Parrog with reports showing that there were at least four more in the vicinity and some five hundred meters or so upstream is a good example of a Norman build limekiln at the site of an old now long disappeared boat building yard. A field next to this area gives us some clues to its history as its know to locals as The Ship Hill.

These days Newport is pretty much reliant on tourism as its bread and butter and has some great holiday accommodation which people return to year after year. The town boasts five campsites, three hotels and numerous self catering and bed and breakfasts as well as a YHA youth hostel.

There are also three public houses as well as restaurants, cafe’s and a host of shop’s which sell everything you would expect at a coastal town from buckets and spades to local art and crafts – Newport has it all.

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