Eisteddfod Gates

Eisteddfod Gates, Crescent Road, Caerphilly

photo of original eisteddfod gatesThis structure is mostly a replica of the ceremonial entrance installed here for the visit to Caerphilly of the National Eisteddfod of Wales in 1950. For decades, less than one metre of each of the stone pillars was all that remained (see photo below).

In 2009 the gateway was rebuilt by Caerphilly County Borough Council using locally salvaged pennant sandstone. Old photographs from Glamorgan Record Office (including the one shown on the right) enabled engineers to reproduce the original design faithfully.

Further south along Crescent Road, near the junction with Park Lane, you can see a circle of standing stones in Dafydd Williams Park. Ceremonies were performed here during the 1950 Eisteddfod by the Gorsedd of Bards, each member dressed in druidic robes. The archdruid, leader of the Gorsedd, at the time was the crowned poet Cynan (Albert Evans-Jones). He was born in Pwllheli in 1895 and much of his poetry was influenced by his experiences as a soldier in the First World War.

In his Eisteddfod speech in Caerphilly, he said there were two stone circles in this vicinity: the peaceful circle of the Gorsedd; and the encircling walls of Caerphilly Castle, symbol of war, oppression and spilt blood.

The 1950 Eisteddfod was a turning point for the festival because it introduced the “rheol Gymraeg” – the rule that all National Eisteddfod competitions and photo of stumps of eisteddfod archperformances must be in Welsh.

The tradition of holding eisteddfodau, festivals of literature and arts, goes back to medieval times in Wales. The Gorsedd, however, stems from the Eisteddfod’s reincarnation by the eccentric Edward Williams (1747-1826) of Llancarfan, near Barry. Better known as Iolo Morganwg, he convinced many learned people that his fictitious ideas for a Gorsedd, where the bards would dress as Celtic druids, were rooted in history. The Gorsedd met for the first time in Primrose Hill, London, in 1792, and remains to this day a colourful element of the Eisteddfod’s pageantry.

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