Gorsedd Stones (Welsh: Cerrig yr Orsedd) are groups of standing stones constructed for the National Eisteddfod of Wales. They form an integral part of the druidic Gorsedd ceremonies of the Eisteddfod. The stones can be found as commemorative structures throughout Wales and are the hallmark of the National Eisteddfod having visited a community.
Each stone structure is arranged in a circular formation typically consisting of twelve stone pillars, sometimes from the local area and sometimes, the stones have been brought in to represent the Welsh counties, such as at Aberystwyth . A large, flat-topped stone, known as the Logan Stone, lies at the centre of the circle and serves as a platform.
As well as commemorating the National Eisteddfod, the Gorsedd Stones continue to provide an important ceremonial venue for the proclamation of future National Eisteddfodau which according to tradition must be completed one year and one day prior to its official opening. The ceremony is conducted by the Archdruid of the Gorsedd of Bards who formally announces the particulars of the proposed venue. During the proceedings the Archdruid stands upon the Logan Stone, facing him, to the east cardinal point, is the Stone of the Covenant where the Herald Bard stands, and behind this are the Portal Stones that are guarded by Eisteddfod officials. The portal stone to the right of the entrance points to midsummer sunrise, while that to the left indicates the midwinter sunrise.
- National Eisteddfod Festival website in Welsh and English
- Cardiff Gorsedd Stones Some Pictures
- About Modern Stone Circles
A gorsedd /ˈɡɔːrsɛð/ plural gorseddau, is a community or coming together 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 spellings in the Cornish and Breton languages, respectively.
When the term is used without qualification, it usually refers to the national Gorsedd of Wales , namely Gorsedd Beirdd Ynys Prydain, meaning “The Gorsedd of Bards of the Island of Britain”. However, other gorseddau exist, such as the Cornish Gorsedh Kernow and the Breton Goursez Vreizh.
There are three ranks of membership in the Welsh Gorsedd. Until 2012 they were, in ascending order of honour:
However, since 2012 all these ranks are treated as equal, with new members all being called ‘Druids’ and with the colour of their robes reflecting the area of their contribution rather than an ascending order of honour. The head of a Gorsedd is known as an Archdderwydd (English: Archdruid), and wears a golden robe, and is elected for a term of three years, and is responsible for conducting the Gorsedd ceremonies during Eisteddfod week. These ceremonies are held to honour literary achievements amongst Welsh poets and prose writers. The ranks within the Breton Gorsedd (Goursez) are the same.
In the Cornish Gorsedd (Gorsedh Kernow), there is only one rank, that of bard, and all robes are blue.
Carmarthen 1819 and the Gorsedd of Bards https://museum.wales/collections/eisteddfodau/provincial/carmarthen-1819/
The next Archbishop of Canterbury was inducted as an honorary white druid yesterday at an open-air ceremony in Wales reminiscent of a scene from a Monty Python sketch.
Dr Rowan Williams, dismissing suggestions that he was dabbling in paganism, joined blue-hooded druids ranked behind a golden harp to be admitted into the Welsh Gorsedd of Bards.
A trumpet fanfare and a 6ft sword being sheathed and unsheathed launched the ceremony at the National Eisteddfod in St David’s, Pembrokeshire. Dr Williams, standing in a circle of stones, wore a long white cloak and headdress.
As he accepted the honour, he clutched the hands of Dr Robyn Lewyes, the chief druid of Wales, between microphones entwined with ivy.
The eccentric imagery added a colourful aspect to the solemn nature of the hour-long event, marking his entry into the organisation of poets, writers, musicians, artists and others who have contributed to Welsh cultural life.
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It was one of Dr Williams’s last duties as Archbishop of Wales. He was named last month as the successor to Dr George Carey, who retires in October.
Dr Williams – who during the ceremony was given the Bardic name of ap Aneurin – described the award as “one of the greatest honours that Wales can bestow on her citizens”. He added: “The suggestion that the Gorsedd is even remotely associated with paganism is deeply offensive.”
Earlier, the Rev Angus Macleay, of the Evangelical Reform Group, attacked Dr Williams for pressing ahead with the ceremony, saying: “It will not be helpful to the Gospel.”
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The Archbishop of Canterbury designate needs to consider what other people, non-Welsh members of the Anglican communion, think he is doing.
“How will it help African bishops and pastors seeking to draw people away from paganism to follow Christ when they see him involved in this sort of activity?”
Other members of the Gorsedd – Welsh for throne – include the former Welsh secretary Ron Davies, Robert Croft, the Glamorgan and England cricketer, and the opera singer Bryn Terfel. Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother was also a white druid.
After the ceremony Dr Williams said: “I feel very saddened that some people have reached the wrong conclusion about the ceremony.
“If people had actually looked at the words of the hymns and text used they would have seen a very Christian service.”