Cardiff, Wales Cardiff is the Welsh capital and also the largest city in Wales (10th largest city in the UK), but its population is only slightly larger than Cincinnati’s.
My hostel was right in the middle of the city centre and when I walked outside, I could see Cardiff Castle just at the end of the street. This castle started out as a Roman fort in 55 AD, and it was beautiful and impressive. I didn’t have a chance to go inside, but just seeing it from outside was incredible.
Right next to the castle was Bute Park. I went inside to have a wander. It was beautifully green. Even though most of the trees had lost their leaves, everything looked so alive. I walked quite a bit of the Taff Trail, which follows the River Taff for 55 miles, but not before stumbling upon a neat looking stone circle in the park.
It was no Stonehenge, but I still fancied that it might be ancient and cryptic. I was disappointed when I discovered that they were just constructed in 1978. However, when I did a little more research, I discovered that they have a very neat story. They’re called the Gorsedd stones, and they were built for the National Eisteddfod of Wales. This is described as the most important of several eisteddfodau that happen each year. These are simply festivals of literature, music and performance, dating back to at least the 12th century.
Still with me? Good, because it gets even more complicated. There is something called a gorsedd (Welsh for “throne”), which is a community or coming together of modern-day bards. Gorseddau were founded in 1792, and their rituals were based on the ancient Celtic Druids. This is where the stones come into play. They are important in completing the ritual; the Archdderwydd (Archdruid) stands on the flat one in the middle, called the Logan Stone. There are tons of rules about how the stones must be arranged and the direction the Archdruid must face when he is conducting the ceremony.
Okay. So because the purpose of the gorseddau is to promote literary scholarship and the creation of poetry and music, it eventually merged with the eisteddfodau so that the gorseddritual occurs at the eisteddfod festival. If you’re interested in becoming a member of the Gorsedd of Bards, you can make arrangements here to take the Welsh examination. You even get to wear crazy cool robes like these people: