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Historic Background
A character area comprising a narrow coastal strip situated within the parishes of St Ishmael’s and Herbrandston. Historically, this coastal strip has always been marginal land, outside the boundaries of cultivated land. In the past it has been used for rough grazing, but now its main function is as a corridor for the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, set between farmland and the edges of the sea cliffs. However, it embraces many former occupation sites including several iron age promontory forts. There are few places suitable for landing small boats along this stretch of high sea cliff. Exceptions are at Monk Haven and Sandy Haven - the latter is dealt with in a separate area while the former was the landing place for St Ishmael’s. Installations connected with navigation and defence are also located within this coastal strip. Lighthouses are marked on late 18th century estate maps on Little Castle Head, but the main periods of construction were in the 1870s and the mid to late 20th century. The fort on Stack Rock, originally constructed as a three gun-tower in 1850-52, expanded to a fort in 1871, and in use until the end of World War 1 is included in this area. During World War 2 many military installations were constructed. The coastal strip has also witnessed mining and quarrying. Small quarries can still be seen, but there is no trace of the copper mines marked on 18th century maps. Twentieth century jetties from oil tanker terminals have been constructed in the eastern part of the area.

Base map reproduced from the OS map with the permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of The Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office, Crown Copyright 2001.
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Description and essential historic landscape components
This historic landscape character area consists of approximately an 8 km strip of high, hard-rock sea cliff topped by a narrow band of moor, scrub and rough ground. The Pembrokeshire Coast Path runs along the entire length of this area. Although it comprises a very narrow strip of land, sometimes just a few metres wide, this area is very different from the highly cultivated land and/or industrial sites that bound it. For long sections there is no connection between the cultivated fields and/or industry sites and the coastal strip. Essentially the historic landscape of the coastal strip is characterised by its many and varied archaeological sites. The most obvious and important of these are several iron age promontory forts, such as Great Castle Head and Little Castle Head. Within the former is the only inhabited building in the area, a lighthouse and its dwelling. Navigation markers, both old and modern, lie in and close to Little Castle Head. Other sites include several World war 2 coastal defence installations, most notably gun batteries and searchlight batteries, sites of quarries and mines, prehistoric flint working floors and an early medieval cemetery near St Ishmael’s. The gun batteries, in particular Soldier’s Rock, are highly visible components of the historic landscape. The prominent offshore 19th century fort of Stack Rock has been included in this area.

This is a very distinct and well-defined area. It has hard-edged boundaries with the farmland and industrial sites that lie inland of it.

Sources: Crane 1994; Murphy and Allen 1998; Hague 1994