Stonehenge Hele Stone

Photo © Firewolf 2019

History of the Gorsedd

In 1995 the British Druid Order, then under the leadership of Philip Shallcrass (Greywolf) and Emma Restall-Orr (Bobcat), began negotiations with English Heritage, the National Trust, and others concerning access for ritual purposes at Stonehenge. After two years the BDO received permission to base a Gorsedd at the Stones. The inaugural Gorsedd was held on the evening of 2 August 1997 to celebrate Lammas. So far as we are aware this was the only Gorsedd not to be based around the Winter or Summer Solstices.

The name 'Cor Gawr' supposedly the ancient 'British' name for Stonehenge, was found by Greywolf in a book, to use his own words: 'Prehistoric London: Its Mounds and Circles, by Elizabeth O. Gordon, published in 1914 by Covenant Publishing, the publishing arm of a group called the British Israelites whose main, somewhat eccentric, thesis was that the British are one of the mythical Lost Tribes of Israel and that evidence for this can be construed from prehistoric monuments. In the book, Gordon attributes the names ‘Caer Ambresbiri’ and ‘Cor Gawr’ to Stonehenge, interpreting the latter as meaning ‘Great Circle'.’ The name has, however, been traced back to no earlier than 1809, when it was coined by Edward (Celtic) Davies in his Mythology and Rites of the Ancient British Druids as an attempt to correct an earlier error of Choir Gaur(e) that dates back to at least the seventeenth century, and which was probably a corruption or anglicisation of the Cymraeg name Côr y Cewri, which has been known since the twelfth century.

The Gorsedd continued to honour the Soltices until in 2002 Bobcat set up The Druid Network and took the Gorseddau at Stonehenge and Avebury with her. She continued to perform the Gorsedd rite at Stonehenge with a succession of male priests, the last of whom was Ted Mackney, until she decided to retire in 2005.

Bobcat handed the Gorsedd over to Christine Cleere (Vixxen) who continued the Gorsedd in company with a group of priests. The first ceremony worked by them was the Midwinter Gorsedd of 2005. During this period the decision was made, in view of the somewhat colourful and perhaps too recent history of the name 'Cor Gawr', to let the Gorsedd be known both as 'The Gorsedd of Bards of Cor Gawr' and by its name in Cymraeg, 'Gorsedd Beirdd Côr y Cewri'.

In 2014 The Druid Network let it be known that they wished to relinquish their connection with the Gorsedd, and from that point it has been run as an independent group. After Midsummer 2016 Vixxen decided to retire and since then the Gorsedd has been run by a dedicated Council of Elders under joint Lead Priests.




The Gorsedd covers all its costs with the generosity of your donations, with the priests and organisers of the Gorsedd paying for all other expenses incurred not covered by those donations from their own pocket, as a service to the wider community. Donations are always welcome to help cover the cost of administration, website etc. If you feel able to help with some of these costs, we are always most grateful and appreciative of your generosity . You can donate by using the button below. Thank you!