A gorsedd occasionally spelled gorseth (especially in Cornwall), plural gorseddau, is a community of bards. The word means "throne" in Welsh.
When the term is used without qualification, it usually means the national gorsedd of Wales, Gorsedd Beirdd Ynys Prydain (Welsh: "the Gorsedd of Bards of the Island of Britain"). However, other gorseddau exist, such as the Cornish Gorseth Kernow and the Breton Goursez Vreizh.
Gorseddau exist to promote literary scholarship and the creation of poetry and music. As part of this, their most visible activity is often the organising of eisteddfodau.
Gorsedd Beirdd Ynys Prydain was founded in 1792 by Edward Williams, often known as Iolo Morganwg, who also invented much of its ritual, supposedly based on the activities of the ancient Druids (although much of its modern ritual also has Christian influence).
There are three ranks of membership in the Welsh gorsedd. In ascending order of honour, they are:
- ovates, who wear green robes,
- bards, who wear blue robes, and
- druids, who wear white robes.
The head of a gorsedd is known as an archdruid, and often wears a purple robe. The ranks within the Breton gorsedd are the same. In the Cornish gorsedd there is only one rank, that of bard, and all robes are blue.
In the Welsh gorsedd, a person may become an ovate or a bard by passing an examination in the Welsh language. Druids may only be nominated by existing druids. People are occasionally made ovates or druids as an honour to reward their contributions to Welsh culture. In recent years, Ron Davies, Rowan Williams, and Ioan Gruffudd have been honoured in this way.
The symbol commonly used to represent a gorsedd is a triple line, the middle line upright and the outer two slanted towards the top of the centre, thus: /|\. This symbol, called "awen", is often explained as representing the sun.