Nine new bards initiated at the annual ceremony
“Lanson is the historic capital and gateway to Cornwall, a place where a traveller is welcomed in Cornish as they leave England” said Grand Bard Merv Davey, Telynyor an Weryn, in his address to fellow bards, visiting dignitaries and members of the public at Gorsedh Kernow’s bardic ceremony. The annual event was held yesterday (as ever, on the first Saturday of September) – this year in the stunning grounds of Launceston Castle.
“Here they meet with a change in culture as Cornish language names appear on signs, maps and satnav,”
Thanking members of the local organising committee for all their hard work over many months and the Mayor of Launceston Cllr Margaret Young for such a warm welcome, the Grand Bard stood alongside delegates from the Welsh and Breton Gorseddau and reminded the crowds who had gathered in and around the bardic circle of the importance of recognising Cornwall as a distinct part of Great Britain.
“Launceston has a proud place in Cornwall’s story,” said Merv Davey, “with its castle built by Brian of Brittany, the Breton knight who became the first Earl of Cornwall following the Norman Conquest. Throughout the centuries, the people of Cornwall have asserted their unique identity and heritage, and it is this distinctive culture that won us international recognition as a legally protected National Minority.”
Speaking of the huge effect tourism has had on Cornwall, the Grand Bard emphasised that much depended on the way Cornish culture is portrayed and the way that assets such as the language and folk tradition are used or abused. He insisted that Cornwall and the Cornish must be the author of their cultural destiny and not outside commercial interests.
“We applaud their use of the Cornish language, Kernewek, at some of Cornwall’s heritage sites,” said the Grand Bard “but Gorsedh Kernow calls upon English Heritage to reject the fairytale that is paraded as “England’s story” and instead, show real enlightenment and tell Cornwall’s true story.”
Gorsedh Kernow exists to maintain the national Celtic Spirit of Cornwall and to give expression to such spirit, to encourage the study of Cornish history and literature, the Cornish language, to foster Cornish art, music, dance and sport and to link with other Celtic countries.
Gorsedh Kernow was established in 1928 with the aim of celebrating and promoting Cornwall’s distinctive Celtic culture and the ancient border town of Launceston provided the setting for this year’s Gorsedh Kernow Esedhvos Festival and bardic ceremony.
The Cornish place name of Launceston, Lannstevan, means the “church or holy enclosure of St Stephen” and is derived from the former monastery at St Stephen’s, a mile and half north-west of the town and the common Brittonic place name element “Lan”.
The annual procession of bards and installation of the 9 new initiates took place on Saturday 2nd September at the ceremony in the grounds of Launceston Castle as part of the Esedhvos Festival. The procession was led by Grand Bard of Cornwall Merv Davey, Telynyor an Weryn, accompanied by the Mayor of Launceston Cllr Margaret Young and local Launceston girl Sophie Hillman as the “Lady of Cornwall.”
pics by Jackie Gainey