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Bards of Gorsedh Kernow

Bards were an important part of ancient Celtic society and culture from very early times. The Bards were the keepers of tradition and histories of the tribes and were proficient in poetry and music.  After the defeat by the Saxons in the 10th century, the Celtic Bards were less and less a feature of life in the seats of power.

The 17th and 18th centuries saw an awakening of the Celtic spirit and the Welsh Gorsedh was revived in 1792 but the Cornish Gorsedh was not revived until 1928.
Prior to this some Cornish folk were made Welsh Bards in the early 1900s.
The aims of the Gorsedh Kernow are to maintain the Celtic spirit of Cornwall - to give expression to that spirit, to encourage the study of Cornish history, language, literature and culture; to foster Cornish art, music and writing; to strengthen the links between other Celtic countries and to promote peace and cooperation among those who work for Cornwall. Bards are nominated by two Bards on the basis of exhibiting a Cornish and Celtic spirit and for some outstanding and lasting achievement or contribution to Cornish culture or identity.  Many have achieved excellence in the Cornish language.

There are now some 40 Bards resident in Australia but are considered Cornish Bards. The Gorsedh is held annually in Cornwall and Assemblies of Bards are held regularly here in Australia.

The ceremony is essentially Christian, spoken entirely in the old Celtic Cornish language and has connection with the Druids. It is a celebration of peace and harmony.  An English translation is made available for the spectators. The Bards wore flowing blue robes The ceremony begins with a call for peace, A ceremony of offering symbolic gifts of God to mankind, follows the presentation being made by a lady who acts on behalf of the women and children.  A delightful dance is performed by young girls who accompany the “Queen” who make the presentation.  The ceremony proceeds with the introduction to newly created Bards, and reference to the history of Cornwall in song and word.


Bards of Gorsedh Kernow in Victoria

To be created a Bard of Gorsedh Kernow is the highest honour Cornwall can bestow.
It is given today to those folk who have made a significant contribution to preserving the Cornish heritage and culture.   Members of the CAV who have been admitted as Bards either recognising their proficiency in the Cornish language or for their services to the CAV, are:

By examination in the Cornish Language: Stephen Amos was barded 1986; Stephen Morey 1997; Peter Trevorah 2001; Betty Johns in 2008.

For their work for Cornwall in Victoria:

Betty Eggleton (dec.) 1988; Bill Whitford 1991; Lesley Morton and Bill Phillips (dec.) 1993; Ruth Hopkins 1995; George Ellis 1995; Edna Ellis (dec.) 1997; Alison Stephen 1998; June Parrott 1999; Richard Snedden 1999; Janet Woolhouse 2001; Joy Menhennet 2002; Thomas Luke 2003; Gweneth Phillips 2003; Monica Donaldson (dec.) 2004; Leanne Lloyd 2004; Colin Roberts 2007; Elizabeth Luke 2008; Roderick Phillips 2009; Neil Thomas 2011; Peter Munday 2012; June Whiffin 2013; Wendy Benoit 2014; Robert Lloyd 2014; Derek Trewarne 2014; Robyn Coates 2015; Lenice Stuchbery 2015.

The following Victorians were barded before the CAV came into being;
Jack Ellis in 1958, for work for the Cornish in Bendigo and as mine correspondent to the Cornishman Newspaper; Gordon Pearce 1955; George Bolton 1960; Nicholas Lawry 1961 and Richard Penberthy 1980 as members of the Loyal Devon, Cornwall and Somerset Association.


Images - "Welcome Back Cousin Jack" Eaglehawk 2010