A castle may not be the first place that you think of when looking for a fossils, but Pembroke Castle is built of local limestone, which over the centuries has been weathered to reveal its fossil contents.
♦ Abundant parking can be found in pay and display car parks close to the castle, at a cost of £1.00 per day.
♦ Once inside the castle there are plenty of rooms to explore and many walls to examine for fossils.♦ Ref: 51.64523°N, 4.80186°W
FIND FREQUENCY: ♦ – Many of the castle’s building blocks are composed of crinoidal limestone. Some of these have been weathered slowly and delicately over hundreds of years to bring their fossils into high relief, showing immaculate detail.
CHILDREN: ♦♦♦♦♦ – This is a tourist attraction and as such caters for all members of the family. While the fossil hunters are staring at rocks in the walls the rest of the party can enjoy an interesting and educational day out.
ACCESS: ♦♦♦♦♦ – The castle is within the town centre with plenty of pay and display parking to be found near by. Most of the staircases within the various parts of the building are steep and young children should be supervised when climbing and descending these. The castle is open all year round, 7 days a week. Opening times vary; please see the castle’s web site for details. Admission prices are £3.50 for adults and £2.50 for concessions.
TYPE: – Pembroke Castle gives the fossil hunter a chance to see what the fossiliferous limestones of the area look like when naturally weathered over hundreds of years.
A video at the beginning of the castle tour takes you through its colourful history. Originally it was a wooden structure built by the Normans in 1093. This was later strengthened and rebuilt in rock over a period of 30 years, from 1189. Further periods of building, stability and minor dereliction occurred until 1648, when Oliver Cromwell ordered the castle destroyed following the civil war. The castle escaped full demolition but was badly damaged and remained a ruin until 1880 when a program of repairs began. These were continued from 1928 and finally restored the castle to the beautiful structure we see today.
When touring the castle and investigating its walls for fossils, the above history is well evidenced. The crinoid fossils within blocks that were quarried more recently during one of the castle’s numerous periods of repair, have only been exposed to weathering for a relatively short period of time and do not stand proud of their matrix. Blocks within the walls of the oldest parts of the castle however have had many hundreds of years for their fossils to weather free of their matrix and these are seen in high relief. The fossils within these blocks are beautifully displayed and the natural weathering has ‘prepared’ them in a way that a skilled fossil preparer would be proud of. These naturally weathered blocks are a real treat and show what the rocks of our coastlines and other rocky areas must have looked like before we became aware of the significance of fossils and started to collect them.
Crinoid stem parts are the most abundant fossils seen, but corals and brachiopods are also present. Most building blocks of the castle are fossilferous, so look in all outside walls for fossils.
The oldest surviving part of the castle is found within the inner gatehouse and keep area. It is here that the most spectacular effects of weathering are seen, with some truly beautiful fossil assemblages on show.
Also look in the stone steps of the various towers for fossiliferous blocks that have become polished over the years by people’s footsteps. Again, some indication of the age of the tower can be gleaned from the degree of polishing of the steps within.
Children should be supervised when climbing the steep staircases within the towers. Otherwise this is a safe location.
Fossils cannot be collected from this site, but take a camera or smartphone to photograph the fossils.
Privately owned, an admission fee must be paid to gain entry.
This site is an SSSI. This Special Site of Scientific Interest, means you can visit the site, but hammering the bedrock is not permitted.