The Bard of Exeter

that was me... but now it's
Simon Williamson

Caer Wyse-“The Bard of Exeter”

Introduction and Overview
By Mark Lindsey Early

Based on records dating back to the 18th century, Exeter is one of approximately 30 ancient locations that have the right to elect their own Bard or “Bardic Chair” each year.

A Bard is a poet, songwriter or wordsmith in the Celtic Tradition. The most well known expression of this is probably the Welsh National Eisteddfod, and closer to home, the Cornish Bards- Gorseth Kernow.
This expression of the Bardic tradition has it’s roots within the Druid orders and societies that were popular in the eighteenth century, and who claimed to be a revival of a much older movement dating back to the original Druids of the Iron Age (and who, themselves may have been a continuation of an older still, shamanic order who were contemporary with megalithic monuments like Stonehenge).

The recent revival of previously vacant “Bardic Chairs”- as the locations are now known, was initiated by modern-day druids, most notably the late Tim Sebastian, but the bardic movement transcends any one spiritual, or even non-spiritual belief system and is open to anyone who wants to be involved, in essence, “belonging” to the people who live in the respective locations and with the celebration of the arts as it’s prime objective.

The most successful of the revived “Chairs” are ..Bath.. (Caer Badon) and ..Glastonbury.. (Caer Ynis Witrin), though more are being back to life each year, and brand new ones are being created including one just over the border in ..Exmoor..!

Exeter was reclaimed by Mark Lindsey Earley, a former “Bard of Bath”, who, in 2003 took on the role of “Druid Chair” or “Grand Bard” and who is responsible for setting up a competition to elect a new “Bard of Exeter”, who will preside for a year and a day before hosting a competition to elect his or her own successor.
Then lots of thing happened that will be left to your musings but needless to say things remained very quite for some time, until in 2009 a talented and prolific Exeter poet came to our attention and was appointed, to quote various press articles from the time, “…because of her dynamism and extremely high prominence in the local poetry scene, coupled with her deep connection with and understanding of the very unique tradition from which the Bardic Chair has it’s roots”. It was agreed that Liv Torc was already fulfilling the role in all but title and would be the ideal candidate to take the Bardic Chair to the next level”. She was initiated as Bard after topping the bill of a local poetry event which also coincided with the launch of her first anthology. She has already put out a challenge for her successor and we think that the Gorsedd has overcome its initial teething troubles and has now well and truly burst forth onto the ....Exeter.... poetry scene, we hope, to continue in perpetuity.

Liv Torc at her ceremony in 2010- clearly I was a demon bard

To read the full history please visit Mark Lindsey Early's Myspace at

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