Frequently Asked Questions

Would you like to know more about Gorsedh Kernow?

Here are the answers to some questions we are often asked.

What is the Gorsedh of Cornwall?

The Gorsedh of Cornwall (also known as Gorsedh Kernow) is a non-political, cultural organisation. Its membership is made up of people who are Cornish Bards.

What is a Cornish bard?

A Cornish Bard is a member of the Gorsedh of Cornwall / Gorsedh Kernow.

How do you become a Bard of the Cornish Gorsedh?

A Bard of Gorsedh Kernow is a person who has been offered bardship ‘for proficiency in the Cornish language’ (there are four grades of exam as set by Kesva an Taves Kernewek / The Cornish Language Board).  Others are made a Bard ‘for services to the Celtic spirit of Cornwall’,  (this is the work of the Admissions Committee of Gorsedh Kernow).

What do you mean by Celtic Cornish?

The word ‘Celtic’ means things that relate to Cornwall being a Celtic nation.  The most obvious things are the Cornish language, Celtic mythology, as well as all Cornish Celtic heritages and cultures. Celticness also manifests itself through membership of Celtic organisations, groups and associations such as The Celtic Congress, Pan-Celtic Song Contest, Celtic Film & Media Association, etc.

Which are the Celtic nations?

There are six Celtic nations: Brittany, Cornwall, Ireland, Isle of Man, Scotland and Wales.  Each Celtic nation has its own living Celtic language (as well as unique history, heritages and cultures).

Do you have to be born in Cornwall to be a Cornish bard?

No. Many of the most successful bards have come to live in Cornwall, come to love the country and achieved much for Cornwall.  Some bards don’t even live in Cornwall but have done great things for Cornish language and culture all over the world.

Do all the bards speak Cornish?

No.  However, all bards of Gorsedh Kernow know of and respect the Cornish language.  If they can’t help themselves then they can put you in touch with fellow bards who can help and/or advice.

What does Gorsedh Kernow actually do?

The Gorsedh holds three public ceremonies a year; Gwarnyans an Orsedh / The Cornish Gorsedh Proclamation, Awen (the mid-summer ceremony) and Gorsedh Kernow (the open gathering of bards held in September). See more here.

Gorsedh Kernow also holds an annual literary award scheme and festival called Holyer an Gof. See more here.

The Gorsedh also has its own awards scheme which recognises the huge amount of work done in Community, Cornish Studies and Awen sectors.  The Awards Group also has a Schools’ Section. See more here.

Gorsedh Kernow also holds an annual conference which tackles the big issues of the day as well as promoting the many successes of Cornish culture. See more here.

How old is Gorsedh Kernow?

The first Gorsedh Kernow was held at Boscawen Un in County Penwith in 1928.  The first gorsedh in Wales – Gorsedd Cymru, held with the Eisteddfod, was in 1819.  The first Breton gorsedh – Goursez Breizh was held in 1899.

Are there druids in Gorsedh Kernow?

No.  There is only one degree of membership in Gorsedh Kernow, that is Bard / Bardh and the bardic robe is blue in colour.  Gorsedh Kernow is open to people of all faiths and none.

Where have Gorsedh ceremonies been held in the past? Who were the earlier Grand Bards?

Here is a link about the history of the Gorsedh.