The Grand Sword

One of the Gorsedd's oldest rites is the ceremony of partly unsheathing the Grand Sword. The Archdruid asks the following questions and the audience replies 'Heddwch' (Peace) three times:

'Y Gwir yn erbyn y Byd, A oes Heddwch? (The Truth against the World, Is there Peace?)
Calon wrth Galon, A oes Heddwch? (Heart to Heart, Is there Peace?)
Gwaedd uwch Adwaedd, A oes Heddwch? (Shout above responding Shout, Is there Peace?)'

Carrying a sword was one of the rites in Iolo Morganwg's first Gorsedd in 1792. As a pacifist Iolo wanted to emphasise that the Bards met in peace and when a naked sword was placed on the Logan Stone they proceeded to sheath it as a symbol of peace in Gorsedd.

The rite of calling out for 'Peace' was originally a separate one and it was first heard in Carmarthen in 1867. Gradually it became linked to the rite of the Grand Sword when admitting new members and yet again the need for 'peace' between contestants in the Chair and Crown competitions.

In 1888, Phillip Yorke of Erddig Hall presented a ceremonial sword to the Gorsedd which was used until the turn of the century.

Then, in 1899, Professor Hubert Herkomer designed a Grand Sword for the Gorsedd. He explained its symbolism:

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 natural crystal in the hilt represents mysticism;
  • the three sacred lines represent the first attempt to write 'Jehovah';
  • the dragon guards them both.
  • On the scabbard the following mottoes were inscribed:
    • 'Y Gwir yn erbyn y Byd' (The Truth against the World) (motto of the Gorsedd of the Isle of Britain)
    • 'Duw a phob Daioni' (God and all Goodness) (the Chair of Glamorgan and Gwent)
    • 'Calon wrth Galon' (Heart to Heart) (the Chair of Dyfed)
    • 'A Laddo a Leddir' ( He who Kills shall be Killed) (the Chair of Powys)
    • 'Iesu na ad gamwaith' (Jesus, let there be no injustice) (the Chair of Gwynedd).

This is the Grand Sword still in use today.