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Gorseth Kernow (Cornish Gorsedd) is a non-political Cornishmarker organisation, which exists to maintain the national Celtic spirit of Cornwallmarker in the United Kingdommarker.


The Gorseth Kernow (Gorsedd of Cornwall) was set up in 1928 at Boscawen-unmarker by Henry Jenner, one of the early proponents of Cornish language revival, who took the name "Gwas Myghal", meaning "servant of Michael". He and twelve others were initiated by the Archdruid of Walesmarker. It has been held every year since, except during World War II. 1,000 people have been Cornish bards, including Ken George, R. Morton Nance ("Mordon") and Peter Berresford Ellis.

The Gorseth Kernow has now opened up to all forms of revived Cornish and states its aim as "to maintain the national Celtic spirit of Cornwall". As such it supports the revival of the Cornish language. The Gorseth also encourages the study of the arts and history. It has been held annually since and has become an important institution in Cornwall's cultural and civic life. Its competitions attract many applicants and the "open Gorseth" is attended by many Cornish people. There is also extensive coverage on local media.

An important part of the open Gorseth is the awarding of bardships to individuals for meritorious work for Cornish culture. Thus the Gorseth acts in many ways as a form of "honours system". Bardships are awarded for study in the language, services to Cornish music, encouraging the arts (especially amongst children) amongst other things. Initiate Bards are given Bardic names by the Grand Bard who welcomes them into the College of Bards. These names are in Cornish and will often refer somehow to the reason for their bardship: other Bardic names refer to the Bard's personal or family name, or describe the Bards themselves,

The three major Gorseths in Britain are recorded in an ancient Welsh triad as being held at Moel Merw and Bryn Gwyddon in Wales and Boscawen-Unmarker in Cornwall (ref: Craig Weatherhill). After domination of the Brythonic Celts by the Saxons the Bardic tradition fell into disuse and despite attempts at revival over the centuries lost all its prestige.

The Gorseth for 2008 was held in September 2008 in Looemarker which coincided with the Dehwelans Kernow festival. The 2009 Gorseth began on April 18 at Saltashmarker.

The first bards of Gorseth Kernow at Boscawen-Un

Morton Nance became the second Grand Bard in 1934. He said, "One generation has set Cornish on its feet. It is now for another to make it walk." Although the early Gorseth used the Unified form, in June 2009, members voted overwhelmingly to adopt the new Standard Written Form as their standard.

Lists of Cornish bards and venues

1899 - 1928

1899, Wales
  • John Hobson Matthews (Mab Cernyw)
  • Reginald Reynolds (Gwas Piran)
  • Hettie Tangye Reynolds (Merch Eia)

1903, Brittany

1904, Wales

1928, Wales
  • Albert Marwood Bluett (Gwryghonen Vew)
  • Revd James Sims Carah (Gwas Crowan)
  • Revd Canon Gilbert Hunter Doble (Gwas Gwendron)
  • Robert Morton Nance (Mordon)
  • Annie Pool (Myrgh Piala)
  • Trelawney Roberts (Gonader A Bell)
  • Joseph Hambley Rowe (Tolzethan)
  • William Charles David Watson (Tirvab)

Venues in Cornwall since 1929

List of Grand Bards of the Gorseth Kernow since 1928

See also


  1. List of new Cornish bards / bardic names
  2. Gorsedh adopts SWF - Cornish Language Partnership

External links

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