GORSEDD BEIRDD YNYS PRYDAIN (lit. ‘The throne of bards of the Isle of Britain’)A society of poets, musicians and representatives of Welsh culture, founded by Iolo Morganwg (Edward Williams) in the late 18th century. He saw the Gorsedd as a bardic system dedicated to promoting the Welsh literary tradition. His insistence on its ancient origin has long been rejected, and the Gorsedd today is accepted as a colourful and dignified part of the National Eisteddfod ceremonies.
Iolo held his first Gorsedd in 1792 on Primrose Hill in London, where he lived at the time, and his first in Wales, on Stalling Down (Cowbridge), in 1795. At an eisteddfod held in the garden of the Ivy Bush hotel, Carmarthen, in 1819, the Gorsedd was associated for the first time with the eisteddfod movement, when Iolo inducted several persons into the Gorsedd by tying different coloured ribbons on their arms. These same colours today signify the various Gorsedd orders: green for members of the Order of Ovate (who gain admission by examination or special acknowledgement); blue for the Order of Poet, Musician and Author (who gain admission by examination); and white for the Order of Druid (who gain admission by invitation).
During National Eisteddfod week, five Gorsedd ceremonies are held, two in the open air within a Gorsedd circle of stones, and three in the main pavilion, when winning poets are crowned and chaired, and when the prose medal is awarded. The Gorsedd, which has its own regalia, is led by the Archdruid, who is elected for a term of three years, and who is supported by a number of officials. The notion, aired in 2004, that the Gorsedd should be held in association with lightweight portable stones caused considerable controversy.