What is the Gorsedd?
The Gorsedd of the Bards of the Isle of Britain is a society of poets, writers, musicians, artists and individuals who have made a notable contribution to the nation, its language and culture. It operates through the medium of the Welsh language.
The Gorsedd of the Bards is responsible for the pageantry of the National Eisteddfod of Wales and it organises and presents the colourful and dramatic Proclamation and Gorsedd Circle rites, and the Chairing, Crowning and Prose Medal ceremonies on the main festival stage.
'The gorsedd is a sort of guild of literati and it provides at 'the national' the ceremonial aspect, the incantations, the robes of white, blue and green, the dancing elves, the sword of peace, the horn of plenty, the sheaf of corn. All the tribes of the world like ritual, badges, medals, strange hats, parades and archaic nomenclature and language. … Wales likes its own pageantry and peacockry …'
(Trevor Fishlock, Talking of Wales, London: Cassells, 1976, pp.75-6)
The inventor of the tradition: Iolo Morganwg
The Gorsedd is the product of the fertile imagination of Edward Williams, otherwise known as Ned of Glamorgan or Iolo Morganwg (1747-1826). He was born in the parish of Llancarfan, Glamorganshire, and although English was his home language he soon became interested in the Welsh language, its literature and history. He was a stonemason by craft and travelled throughout Wales and especially to London. Once there he came into contact with the Gwyneddigion Society and began to turn in cultural and radical circles.
Iolo Morganwg was a genius - one of the founder members of the Unitarian movement in Wales, a political radical who supported the French Revolution, a pacifist, an antiquarian, a hymn-writer and an able lyrical poet who called himself 'The Bard of Liberty'.