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date: 23 September 2020


  • Malcolm Boyd


A competitive festival of Welsh origin, devoted mainly to music and literature. The word ‘eisteddfod’ (literally ‘a session’) did not come into common use until the 18th century, but the festival to which it refers originated in the medieval gatherings held from time to time to determine the professional requirements and duties of the bards. The earliest of these for which we have reliable documentary evidence was that summoned by Lord Rhys ap Gruffydd at Cardigan in 1176, but it is likely that similar convocations were held even before this date. Lord Rhys's festival is of particular interest because of certain features it had in common with the modern eisteddfod, namely the inclusion of competitions, the awarding of chairs to the victors, and the fact that it was proclaimed one year in advance throughout the British Isles. Similar meetings are recorded in other parts of Wales during the 14th and 15th centuries, the most important being that held by Lord Gruffydd ap Nicolas at Carmarthen in about ...

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