A question that often arises on courses is whether or not the medieval Welsh bards — those that gave us the Taliesin myth as we understand it today — were shamans in any way? As always, the answer is more complex than a simple yes or no.
The Welsh Bardic Triads (‘Trioedd Ynys Prydein‘) provide an index to the oral storytelling tradition of medieval Wales. They were used by bards across the centuries not only to help them remember the vast network of traditional myth and lore, but also to present a distinct vision of the ancient past.
Taken from the Gafael Tir tour 2018, a show I perform with my good friend Owen Shiers. Gafael Tir is a history of land-rights and protest in Wales, telling a thousand years of the common folks’ history through folk song, story and verse. Mwynhewch:
Medieval Welsh bards had a taste for the theatrical. Like many men of high standing they had an appreciation of the power of drama. In the 12th century, Cynddelw Brydydd Mawr composed a poem blessing the Lord Rhys’ court gates, probably declaimed in a pounding voice as the old bard swished into the hall followedContinue reading “The bard as druid”
Gramadegau’r Penceirddiaid* (‘The Grammars of the Chief Bards’) are a family of texts found in various manuscripts from about the 14th to the 16th centuries, although its quite likely the basic material they contain is much older. They would have been used as teaching tools in the bardic schools and reference works for those wealthy enoughContinue reading “The Triads of Bardic Craft”
Pawb at Dewi was a poem composed by the prophet-poet Dafydd Llwyd, probably in 1485. When Henry Tudor was making his way through Wales gathering support and troops for his forthcoming battle with Richard III at Bosworth, he stopped off at Mathafarn Hall just outside of Machynlleth, specifically to visit Dafydd Llwyd. Dafydd Llwyd wasContinue reading “The Bard as Prophet”
This audio clip is from a course on The Welsh Bardic Tradition, held at Aberystwyth University; I haven’t included the course notes as some of them are scans from a published books. This excerpt summarises some of the initial features of the Taliesin persona as found in The Book of Taliesin, and takes a quickContinue reading “Taliesin and bardic learning”
This audio clip is from a course on The Welsh Bardic Tradition, held at Aberystwyth University, alongside an excerpt from the course notes. It looks at the life and early work of the greatest of the Gogynfeirdd, Cynddelw Brydydd Mawr during the time of the fall of the Kingdom of Powys. The Welsh Bardic Tradition weekContinue reading “The ideal of bardic truth”
This audio clip is from a course on The Welsh Bardic Tradition, held at Aberystwyth University, alongside an excerpt from the course notes. It summarises a discussion on a sequence of anonymous medieval gnomic stanzas from around 1100. Mountain Snow Excerpt text
This audio clip is from a course on The Welsh Bardic Tradition, held at Aberystwyth University, alongside an excerpt from the course notes. It covers a medieval praise poem written around 1100 to Cuhelyn Fardd, a powerful nobleman and bard from West Wales. The poem itself reveals much about bardic culture and custom in medievalContinue reading “To praise a noble bard”