The History of Vikings in North Pembrokeshire is complicated by the open, armed, often prolonged conflicts carried on between the various Kingdoms of Wales, and the interference of foreign foes.
Intensified Norse activity started about 950, following the death of Hywel Dda, king of Gwynedd and Deheubarth (South-West Wales). There were numerous raids on the coastal lowlands, and in particular on religious centres, such as Penmon and Caer Gybi (Anglesey), Clynnog Fawr (Caernarfonshire), Tywyn (Merionethshire), St David’s, which was attacked 11 times between 967 and 1091, and St Dogmaels (Pembrokeshire), Llanbadarn Fawr (Cardiganshire), Llantwit Major and Llancarfan (Glamorgan). However, in comparison with the fate of churches in Ireland, Wales appears to have suffered lightly, which may in part be a reflection of poorer documentary records.
982: Goðfriðr Haraldsson launches a campaign into Southern Wales, heavily raiding Dyved and despoiling the Church of St. David at Menevia. Goðfriðr met the Welsh in battle at the Battle of Llanwannawc or Llangweithenauc; 988: The Norse raid Church of St. David at Menevia, as well as the monastic houses of Llanbadarn Fawr near Aberystwyrth, Llandudoch (modern St. Dogmaels) near Cardigan, Llancarfan near Glamorgan, and Llanilltrud, also near Glamorgan; 992: Church of St. David at Menevia destroyed for the third time by the Norse raiders. Maredudd ab Owain, king of Dyfed, hired Norse mercenaries for his retaliatory campaign against Edwin ab Einion, king of Glamorgan; 999: Church of St. David at Menevia destroyed and Bishop Morgeneu slain by Vikings; 1002: Norse raiders attack Dyfed, but this time spare the Church of St. David at Menevia; 1022: Eileifr, a Dane in the service of King Cnut, raided Dyfed and the Church of St. David at Menevia; 1080: Norse "gentiles" attacked the Church of St. David at Menevia and slew the Bishop Abraham;
The situation over the period of Viking attacks was not always one of hostility between Welsh and Vikings. At times alliances were formed in opposition to the Anglo Saxons, and other Welsh Kingdoms. Irish-Viking coalitions gained swift access to Wales via Norse settlements along the Irish coast at Dublin, Wexford, Waterford, and Cork, and, here too, linked-up with key Welsh allies in Haverfordwest.
In the Irish records, Welsh horses are mentioned on various occasions, they appear to have been the most highly prized during the Viking Age and a trade in them seems to be firmly established at this time. Clearer evidence for Viking contact with Wales comes from the Historic and Municipal Documents of Ireland. It records the names of the citizens of Dublin at the end of the twelfth century and records a number of people from Wales, including: Haverfordwest, and the north coast of Pembrokeshire - Fishguard to Porthclais / St. Davids.
The general area of today's North Pembrokeshire adjacent towns of Fishguard (Old Norse Fiskigarðr) and Goodwick (Old Norse góðrvik) formed the site of a Norse trading post, where, the high South East facing hillside of Goodwick (part of the Pencaer peninsula) and its large sandy beach afforded shelter from prevailing SW winds and, therefore, became an important "bad weather protector" for Viking vessels moving through the Irish Sea. Here too, in 1074 or 1078 (depending on historical source), was the site of The Battle of Goodwick.
1074 "Goodwick Moor. Here Rhys, son of Owain ap Edwyn, was defeated and slain in 1074 by Trahaearn ap Caradog (Brut y Tywysogion). The moor is now waterlogged and marshy. Visited, 2nd June 1921". An alternative version: 1078: "And then there was the battle of Pwllgwdig. And then Trahaearn, king of Gwynedd, prevailed. And then all Rhys [ap Owain]'s warband fell." Source: Thomas Jones, The Chronicle of the Princes, 1955, p.29.
In Wales, rather than conquering, the Viking colonies ended up being assimilated by the Welsh. Likewise, those Welsh, such as they from North Pembrokeshire, choosing to act as mercenaries for the Vikings became assimilated in to Norse culture.
“HAAGDYVE (Word origin): Derived from the "Norm" language. ” — Dr. M. Williams
In about 904, Dyfed's ruler, Llywarch ap Hyfaidd, died, leaving his daughter Elen ferch Lywarch (893-943) as his heiress. Elen was married to Hywel Dda, ruler of neighbouring Seisyllwg and grandson of Rhodri the Great through his second son, Cadell ap Rhodri. Through his marriage to Elen, Hywel incorporated Dyfed into an enlarged realm to be known as Deheubarth, meaning the "south part", and later went on to conquer Powys and Gwynedd. However, both Powys and Gwynedd returned to their native dynasties on Hywel's death in 950. Hwyel's grandson Maredudd ab Owain recreated the kingdom of his grandfather, but his rule was beset with increasing Viking raids during the latter part of the 10th century. It is during this period that Viking settlements increased, particularly in the area in the cantref of Penfro, with other Viking settlements and trading station at Haverfordwest, Fishguard and Caldey Island in Dyfed. Viking raids upon the Welsh were "relentless", according to Davies, and Maredudd was compelled to raise taxes to pay the ransoms for Welsh hostages in 993, and in 999 a Viking raiding party attacked St. David's and killed Morganau, the bishop. Note: Haverfordwest is a corruption of the Norse name that translates as 'Haven fjord west'