Nevern is a tiny village off the main A487 between Fishguard and Cardigan, Nevern has ancient origins and offers many sites of interest. It is a charming village best known for its impressive church as well as its location along the pilgrimage route to St. David’s (three pilgrimages to St. David’s were once considered the equivalent of one journey to Rome). The parish Church of St. Brynach traces its origins back to the Celtic Christians and contains 6th century engraved stones (one is carved with Latin and Ogham writing); the churchyard is the site of an enormous Celtic cross (below) and a legendary bleeding yew tree. Nearby, the pathway to St. David’s is marked by a fine cross cut into a rock – at its base is a stone with impressions said to be worn down by the knees of the pious.
A fine motte and bailey castle may be located by climbing the short but winding road that continues up the hillside beyond the pilgrims’ route. Also known as Nanhyfer, the castle was originally a native Welsh stronghold, but was seized in the early 12th century by the Norman Robert Fitzmartin, lord of Cemmaes. Fitzmartin strengthened the castle and created a double-motted structure. Later that century the Welsh Lord Rhys promised peace with the Fitzmartins upon the marriage of his daughter, Angharad, to William Fitzmartin (Robert’s grandson), but that peace was short-lived. In 1191, the Lord Rhys stormed the castle at Nanhyfer and turned it over to his son, Maelgwyn. The Fitzmartins, in turn, moved about 2 1/2 miles to the southwest and built another, greater castle at Newport (remnants of which have been incorporated into a fine residence).