The ceremony in which the winning poet is chaired for composing a collection of poems, an ode or other poem - all in strict meter on a specific subject is one of highlights of the Gorsedd of the Bards' pageantry in every National Eisteddfod. It is held on Friday afternoon.
It is a very old ceremony. The custom of competing for a chair in the King's court was already well-established in Hywel Dda's time in the tenth century and when the Lord Rhys 'held his court excellently' in Cardigan in 1176, the prize for the chief poet and chief musician was a chair each. Then, in c.1541, silver chairs were awarded at the Carmarthen eisteddfod and once more at the Caerwys eisteddfodau in 1523 and 1567. Having re-established the eisteddfodic movement in Bala in 1789 winning the Chair became the ambition of every poet, although there was no Gorsedd ceremony associated with it yet. It was at the first provincial eisteddfod in Dyfed / Dinefwr in Carmarthen in 1819 that Iolo succeeded in linking the rites of the Gorsedd of the Bards with the ceremony of Chairing the winning Bard.
In 1867 it was decided to assign the Chair for an ode in strict meter and to award a Crown for the best pryddest in free meter.
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Archaeological material recovered from Holt, 1912
Llandow airfield, 5th July 2012
Jini Gittens, a member of the Powys Gorsedd, 1965
Competing at the 1958 Ebbw Vale Eisteddfod
Eisteddfod Maes, Swansea, 2006
Pittsburgh Eisteddfod 1886 program page 10
Eisteddfod Maes, Bala, 2009
Welsh ceramics from Nantgarw and Swansea Potteries
Pittsburgh Eisteddfod 1886 program page 16
Caerwys, Sir y Fflint
© Casgliad y Werin Cymru, The People's Collection Wales 2011
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