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Immigration and Emigration
The Flemish colonists in Wales

Fortification

Haverfordwest Castle
© BBC
A line of over 50 castles and strongholds was built by the Normans and Flemish to protect south Pembrokeshire from the indigenous Welsh, who had been forced to move to the hilly country in the north of the county. The frontier of castles, known as the Landsker line - from the Norse word for divide - stretched from Newgale on the west coast to Amroth on the south east coast.

Flemish Chimney
The Flemings lend their name to a local architectural feature - the Flemish chimney, examples of which can be found in and around south Pembrokeshire. The chimneys were usually made of local limestone, and built into the front wall of the cottage close to the door. They are tall and conical, with a large round stack sometimes big enough to fit a chair and table inside. Many chimneys remained long after the original building had been demolished. This chimney in St Florence was once part of a tiny cottage, and the line of the gable end of the original building can still be seen above the fireplace. Although these chimneys bare the name of the Flemish, there is no proof they built them, and no examples have ever been found in the Lowlands, however many examples have been found in Devon and Cornwall, so their origin remains a mystery
Two thirds of the fortifications were earthworks, with stone castles on or near navigable waters. The castle at Haverfordwest was built by the Flemish leader Tancred, soon after the Flemish arrived in 1108. Under its protection a settlement developed and the foundations were laid for a modern market town and commercial centre. The village of Wiston, five miles north-east of Haverfordwest, derived its name from another Fleming, Lord Wizo, who established a castle there, while Letterston was the settlement of the suitably nicknamed Letard Litelking ('Little King').

Tenby, on the south east coast of Pembrokeshire, grew in the 12th Century, when surrounding walls, a castle and a church were erected for the convenience of the Flemish colonists. The Flemish were experts in the woollen trade, and soon flourished in the area.

The Flemish occupied the more productive farming land in Pembrokeshire, south of the Landsker line, in the lowland areas. Here the land was fertile and warmed by the Gulf Stream, enjoying Indian summers, mild winters and early springs. Crops were ready two weeks before those in the north of the county, where the terrain was more mountainous.


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