VISITNG two Pembrokeshire villages for the new series of a BBC programme was a ‘revelation’ according to the presenter.

Archaeologist Ben Robinson has returned to our screens for the fourth series of BBC Two’s Villages by the Sea, where he visits a number of coastal villages to uncover some of their secrets about their past.

Series four – which is airing now – is the first to feature places outside England, as he takes to the coast in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, including two visits to Pembrokeshire.

Speaking to the Western Telegraph on visiting Pembrokeshire for the show, Ben said: “I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time, to explore some of the places beyond England and properly try and get into the history.”

Ben is no stranger to Pembrokeshire, having visited as a child on an adventure holiday. “I thought it was spectacular back then, so it was a real joy to be able to come back and properly explore the history.”

On Villages by the Sea, Ben is joined by local experts as he visits the perfectly preserved lime kilns of Solva – named as one of the prettiest places in the UK, and learns about the varied industrial past of Porthgain.

Ben said: “These are beautiful places and people think often that we’ve just been handed them on a plate. We’re so lucky to have these places and that somehow they’ve always been resorts and they were designed like this and they were always designed to be beautiful and for people to look at. And that’s far from the case. It’s very lucky we’ve ended up with places like Solva and what we try to do is say, ‘yes, it’s a beautiful place, it’s a beautiful environment, but it has a fascinating history which helps us through time all the more.’”

Western Telegraph: Ben visits the beautiful Solva harbour in the latest series of Villages by the SeaBen visits the beautiful Solva harbour in the latest series of Villages by the Sea (Image: BBC)

In the series, he learns about Solva’s extraordinary journey through time and how today’s shops and buildings used to be warehouses and the preserved lime kilns which Ben said would have been in between people’s homes, although today, they are dotted about in people’s gardens, with one turning it into a pond!

“There were 1,000 people there at the end of the 18th century. That is a big place at that time. It’s got this rich industrial and commercial past, which is almost forgotten. So it’s great to be able to uncover things like this.

“Many people would have sat on the quayside there and looked across at those lime kilns. They had Gothic arches and they look a bit like some ancient fortification, a castle or something like that, so to be able to tell the real story of them and how important they were to fertilising the land, the grain production that led to the granaries and the commerce and the trade, but also to building the village itself. That was brilliant.”

“It was all a bit of a revelation to be honest,” Ben continued. “The importance of these places, how far reaching these industries were at a time when it was difficult to get goods in and out by road and by railway, just how important these ports were and these village ports as well.

“It wasn’t all the big ports doing all the trade. The health of the country, the development of the country, relied on all these places pulling their weight and more.

“And that’s a real revelation. I think at Porthgain, the story about how the village was bought back by the locals when quarrying ceased again. Well, its quite extraordinary. The villagers and the National Trust deciding that, no, this place wasn’t going to die, they were going to enable people to live there and enable it to function into the future.

“Just because that major industry had closed, that wasn’t the end of the Porthgain story, that wouldn’t be the end of the Porthgain story. And that was extraordinary to me that the locals had got together and fought to save their village.”

Villages by the Sea is airing on BBC Two now. The episode featuring Solva will air on November 16 and the episode featuring Porthgain on November 24, both at 7pm.

The series is also available to catch up on BBC iPlayer.