The Gorsedd Stone Circle

The Maen Chwŷf and Gorsedd Stones, Pontypridd
The Maen Chwŷf and Gorsedd Stones, Pontypridd
The Gorsedd of the Bards, Brecon, 1889.
The Gorsedd of the Bards, Brecon, 1889.
T.H.Thomas' plan of the Gorsedd of the Bards' Circle of Stones, 1901
T.H.Thomas, Arlunydd Pen-y-garn, the Herald Bard's Order of the Gorsedd of the Bards' Circle of Stones, 1901
The Gorsedd of the Bards at the London National Eisteddfod, 1909
The Gorsedd of the Bards at the London National Eisteddfod, 1909; note the small stones.

The Proclamation Ceremony and other Gorsedd ceremonies held during the week of the National Eisteddfod are held within the Gorsedd Stone Circle.

The remarkable stone remains at Avebury in Wiltshire and Dyffryn Golych, in his native county, probably influenced Iolo Morganwg's vision of a Celtic druidic stone circle. Thus, the first Gorsedd in 1792 was held within a circle of stones, with a Maen Gorsedd at its centre. However when Iolo came to link the Eisteddfod and the Gorsedd at Carmarthen in 1819 all he had to hand was a fistful of pebbles. Only Bards were allowed within this sacred circle of stones.

In Glamorganshire the Maen Chwŷf, a huge slab of slate stone, near Eglwysilan, was seen as a natural gorsedd and several meetings of the Glamorgan Chair were held on it during the first half of the nineteenth century.

Towards the end of the century, in order to inform future gorseddau, the Herald Bard - Arlunydd Pen-y-garn made a detailed plan of the Gorsedd Circle, and this was followed in the Cardiff Eisteddfod, 1899. According to this plan the stone to the east, the Maen Cyfamod, and the two Portal stones formed the shape of the mystic mark. For a time it was fashionable to dress the stones with oak and mistletoe leaves.

To facilitate holding the Gorsedd Circle on the Eisteddfod field itself during the week of the Eisteddfod, it was decided in 2004 to use fake (but realistic-looking) stones.

  • National Museum Cardiff

    National Museum Cardiff

    Discover art, natural history and geology. With a busy programme of exhibitions and events, we have something to amaze everyone, whatever your interest – and admission is free!

  • St Fagans National History Museum

    St Fagans

    St Fagans is one of Europe's foremost open-air museums and Wales's most popular heritage attraction.

  • Big Pit National Coal Museum

    Big Pit

    Big Pit is a real coal mine and one of Britain's leading mining museums. With facilities to educate and entertain all ages, Big Pit is an exciting and informative day out.

  • National Wool Museum

    National Wool Museum

    Located in the historic former Cambrian Mills, the Museum is a special place with a spellbinding story to tell.

  • National Roman Legion Museum

    National Roman Legion Museum

    In AD 75, the Romans built a fortress at Caerleon that would guard the region for over 200 years. Today at the National Roman Legion Museum you can learn what made the Romans a formidable force and how life wouldn't be the same without them.

  • National Slate Museum

    National Slate Museum

    The National Slate Museum offers a day full of enjoyment and education in a dramatically beautiful landscape on the shores of Llyn Padarn.

  • National Waterfront Museum

    National Waterfront Museum

    The National Waterfront Museum at Swansea tells the story of industry and innovation in Wales, now and over the last 300 years.

  • Rhagor: Explore our collections

    Rhagor (Welsh for ‘more’) offers unprecedented access to the amazing stories that lie behind our collections.