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St Davids Day: A day trip to the smallest city in the U.K

St David's Day, the patron saint day of Wales, falls each year on March 1, with a range of celebratory events.

If you want to say 'Happy St David's Day' in Welsh? It's Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus - pronounced Deethe goo-eel Dew-ee happ-iss.

Recognised annually since the 12th century, St Davids day is the first day of the year we Britons celebrate one of our patron saints and marks the date of St David's supposed death in 589 AD.

St David is the patron saint of Wales - as well as the patron saint of doves. Also known as Dewi Sant in Welsh. He was born in Caerfai in Pembrokeshire, Wales to Sant, a prince of Cardigan, and St Non, the daughter of a chieftain in around 500 AD. He was recognised as a national patron saint at the height of Welsh resistance to the Normans.

St David studied under St Paulinus in Cardigan before he went on pilgrimages, travelling to Wales, Cornwall, Britanny, Ireland and Jerusalem, where he was made an archbishop.

While little is known about St David's life, he is known for performing miracles. His most famous miracle was when he was preaching to a large crowd at the Synod of Brefi and raised the ground beneath him into a hill so his sermon could be heard by all.

In medieval times, St David was thought to be the nephew of King Arthur. In some stories, it is his mother who was the niece of King Arthur. Legend also says that St Patrick foresaw David's birth.

A stained Glass Window depicting Saint David, the patron saint of Wales, inside St. Non's Chapel CREDIT: Dave Porter/Photographer's Choice

During St David's last sermon his words to his followers were: "Be joyful, and keep your faith and your creed. Do the little things that you have seen me do and heard about. I will walk the path that our fathers have trod before us."

"Do the little things" has become a well-known inspirational saying in Wales.

St David’s remains were buried in St David's Cathedral in Pembrokeshire.

St Davids

A day out to St Davids is well worth the journey (it's approximately 50 minutes from the Lawrenny site). Named after the patron saint of Wales, St David’s is the smallest city in Britain and is home to a wealth of history.

St Davids is a tiny cathedral city (no bigger than a village) built on the site of the monastery founded by St David (Dewi Sant) in the 6th Century. The City status of St.Davids was granted to all of St.Davids by HM the Queen by Royal Charter on 1st June 1995. St Davids, or Dewisland, is surrounded by spectacular coastal scenery with an abundance of wildlife.

This area of Pembrokeshire is rich in early Christian heritage – not only as the site of St David’s monastery but also as the place from which St Patrick is said to have set sail when he went to convert Ireland to Christianity.

Points Of Interest

1.St David's City Cross:This well-known landmark in the centre of St David's is a medieval preaching cross. The shaft is original, the head and six-step base being more modern. It's opposite the National Trust Visitor Centre and Shop.The monument is one of many along an historic route of pilgrimage to the cathedral. The cathedral itself was built with stone from cliffs at Caerbwdy on the Solva Coast.This monument is now looked after by The National Trust.

2.The Monks' Dyke: The Monks’ Dyke or Ffos y Mynach is thought to mark the limit monks and priests could move from St David’s Cathedral. It runs across the St David’s Peninsula, joining together several National Trust places, from Morfa Common in the south, Dowrog Common near the city and Pen Beri on the north coast. You can retrace much of it with the help of an Ordnance Survey map, on a combination of footpaths and minor roads.

3.Oriel y Parc Gallery: hosts displays from the collections of the National Museum of Wales alongside work by local artists and craftspeople. It’s also home to works by surrealist painter Graham Sutherland.

4.Bishop's Palace: The remains of the palace lie on the opposite bank of the river from the cathedral and provide a suitably dramatic backdrop for open air theatre performances in the summer. Bishop Henry de Gower’s legacy consists of the simpler east range, his private domain, and the grander south range, built for banqueting in the great hall.

5.Boat trips: St Davids is a great starting point for the abundant wild offshore islands of Ramsey, Grassholm, Skomer and Skokholm. They offer an opportunity to get close to the sea life that call this rugged landscape home. Catch a glimpse of puffins, gannets, porpoises, dolphins and whales and choose a 15-minute island hop or a leisurely cruise. Don’t forget your camera.

6.St Davids Head Coastal walk: This circular walk will take you across the wild cliffs looking out across the sea. You will pass prehistoric monuments and a fantastic array of coastal wildlife on this rugged circular walk. Don’t forget to check out our Pembrokeshire wildlife post.


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