ST. DAVID'S (TYDDEwI), a cathedral village-city of Pem brokeshire, Wales, situated near the sea to the south-east of St. David's head, the most westerly promontory of south Wales. Pop. (1921), 1,644. St. David's is lam. from Netterson G.W.R. station, and about 16 m. S.W. from Fishguard. The little town, locally known as "the city," stands in a lofty position near the cathedral close, and consists of five streets focusing on the square, called Cross Keys, the ancient market place still possessing its market cross (restored 1873). The origin of the fine little cathedral and its village "city" in an area so remote under mod ern conditions is of special interest. North-west Pembrokeshire, like most western promontories of Britain, France and Spain, is remarkably rich in old stone monuments (menhirs, dolmens and stone circles), a fact pointing in all probability to its being on the coastwise and transpeninsular route frequented by prehis toric traders from the Mediterranean to Ireland. (See PEMBROKE SHIRE.) The little boats of old were driven hither and thither at the mercy of wind and tide, so the coastland of St. David's head became dotted with alternative landing places, e.g., Porth y Rhaw, St. Non's Bay, Porth Clais, Porth Stinian, Whitesand Bay, which seem to have made the neighbourhood important in pre-Christian times, as one may judge from folk tradition, monuments on the headland, etc.
The pre-Christian tradition was continued by the Celtic saints moving between Ireland and Wales. In early mediaeval days the same route grew important, as pilgrims moved to and from the shrine of St. Iago da Compostella in north-west Spain. (See Hart well Jones, "Celtic Britain and the Pilgrim Movement," Y Cymm rodor 1912.) The little landing places on the shore now had Christian chapels, where prayers were possibly said for safe voyages. The most important ruins at present are those of St. Justinians. At a focus behind a group of these small ports, in the quiet sheltered, well-watered valley of the Alun, the fine cathedral of SS. David and Andrew was built, and on the high ground around, as if sheltering it still further, the "village-city" grew. Throughout the middle ages the cathedral was the centre of pilgrimage and the mediaeval roads (often marked by sacred wells) may be traced across Pembrokeshire focusing on St. David's. Two pilgrimages to St. David's were popularly thought to equal one to Rome itself. The early holders of the see ventured, while the central government was weak, to exercise metropolitan rights over much of south Wales, but the increasing power of the Norman penetration reached St. David's and Anselm's forcible appointment of Bernard—a Norman monk—to be bishop in 1115 made St. David's a suffragan see of Canterbury. A conciliatory step, it would appear, was the canonization of David about 1120. Gerald de Barri (Giraldus Cambrensis) strove vainly to regain the ancient power of St. David's from 1199-1203.
On the west bank of the Alun stand the splendid ruins of the episcopal palace erected by Bishop Gower (c. 1342). The palace was built for residential purposes rather than for defence and oc cupies three sides of a quadrangle 120 ft. square, and, though roofless and deserted for nearly three centuries, retains most of its principal features. The great hall, 96 ft. by 33 ft., possesses a traceried wheel-window ; the chief portal is still imposing ; and the chapel retains its curious bell-turret ; while the peculiar but graceful arcaded parapet of the roof extends intact throughout the whole length of the building. Partially dismantled by Bishop Barlow (c. 1540) the half-ruined palace was occasionally occupied by succeeding bishops prior to the Civil Wars.
The Close, 18 ac. in extent and extra-parochial, contains the deanery and other residences of the cathedral clergy, mostly oc cupying the sites of ancient buildings. It formerly owned four gateways, of which the South or Tower gate alone remains.