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Gorsedd y Beirdd
Gorsedd of the Bards
Awen of Iolo Morganwg.
Formation1792 (1792)
FounderIolo Morganwg
TypeWelsh culture
Celtic Revival

A gorsedd (/ˈɡɔːrsɛð/, plural gorseddau) is a community or meeting of modern-day bards. The word is of Welsh origin, meaning "throne". It is often spelled gorsedh in Cornwall and goursez in Brittany, reflecting the forms in the Cornish and Breton languages, respectively.

When the term is used without qualification, it usually refers to the Gorsedd Cymru, the National Gorsedd of Wales.[1] However, other gorseddau exist, such as the Cornish Gorsedh Kernow,[2] the Breton Goursez Vreizh[3] and Gorsedd y Wladfa, in the Welsh Settlement in Patagonia.[4]


Lady of Cornwall and flower girls at the 2007 Gorsedh Kernow (Penzance)

Gorseddau exist to promote literary scholarship and the creation of poetry and music.[5] As part of this, their most visible activity can be seen at Eisteddfodau – Welsh language festivals.


Goursez Vreizh (the Gorsedd of Brittany) in 1906

Gorsedd Cymru was originally founded as Gorsedd Beirdd Ynys Prydain (later renamed Gorsedd Cymru) in 1792 by Edward Williams, commonly known as Iolo Morganwg, who also invented much of its ritual, supposedly based on the activities of the ancient Celtic Druidry.[6] Nowadays, much of its ritual has Christian influence, and were given further embellishment in the 1930s by Cynan (later Archdruid 1950–1954 and 1963–1966).[7] The Gorsedd made its first appearance at an Eisteddfod at the Ivy Bush Inn in Carmarthen in 1819, and its close association with the Festival has remained. It is an association of poets, writers, musicians, artists and individuals who have made a significant and distinguished contribution to Welsh language, literature, and culture.

The fictitious origin of these ceremonies was established by Professor G.J. Williams in works touching on Iolo Morganwg.[8]

In 1999, the centenary of early Gaelic revival poet and Easter Rising leader Patrick Pearse's initiation into the Gorsedd at the 1899 Pan Celtic Eisteddfod in Cardiff (where he took the Bardic name of Areithiwr) was marked by the unveiling of a plaque at the Consulate General of the Irish Republic in Wales.[9]


Symbol of Gorsedd, the Awen.

The symbol commonly used to represent a Gorsedd is a triple line, the middle line upright and the outer two slanted towards the top of the centre, thus: /|\.[10] This symbol, called "awen", is often explained as representing the sun.[11] The word "awen" means "muse" in Welsh.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Hafan". Gorsedd Cymru (in Welsh).
  2. ^ "The Celtic Spirit of Cornwall - An Gwir erbynn an Bys". Gorsedh Kernow (in English and Cornish). Archived from the original on 10 August 2018.
  3. ^ "Le Gorsedd de Bretagne". Gorsedd.com (in French). Archived from the original on 15 October 2004.
  4. ^ E. Wyn James, 'Identity, Immigration, and Assimilation: The Case of the Welsh Settlement in Patagonia', Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, 24 (2018), 76-87. ISSN 0959-3632.
  5. ^ Hanes Gorsedd y Beirdd Geraint & Zonia Bowen; Barddas 1991
  6. ^ Gorsedd y Beridd Archived 2010-07-25 at the Wayback Machine – Hanes (History). Accessed 5 December 2009. Welsh language page only.
  7. ^ Koch, John T., ed. (2006). "Gorsedd Beirdd Ynys Prydain". Celtic culture: a historical encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO, Inc. p. 836. ISBN 1-85109-445-8.
  8. ^ Traddodiad Llenyddol Morgannwg, 1948
  9. ^ [1] Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine Account of Gorsedd commemoration, 1999
  10. ^ The Barddas of Iolo Morganwg, Vol I – The Sacred Symbol
  11. ^ Gorseth Kernow – The Gorseth of Cornwall: Ceremonies and Regalia Archived 2010-02-06 at the Wayback Machine