Barddas is a book of material compiled and written by the Welsh writer and literary forger Iolo Morganwg. Though purported to be an authentic compilation of ancient Welsh bardic and druidic theology and lore, its contents are largely Iolo's own invention. The work was published by John Williams for the Welsh Manuscripts Society in two volumes, 1862 and 1874.[1][2][3]

AuthorIolo Morganwg (edited by John Williams)
CountryUnited Kingdom
SubjectWelsh Bardic and Druidic beliefs
PublisherD. J. Roderic, London, Longman & Co., Welsh Manuscripts Society
Publication date
1862 (Volume 1), 1874 (Volume 2)
Media typeprint (hardback)
Pages425pp (first edition)
Barddas - Title page


Following Iolo Morganwg's death in 1826, his son Taliesin Williams set about collecting and publishing his unpublished manuscripts. This resulted in three volumes, including The Iolo Papers in 1848, published a year after Taliesin Williams' unexpected death. Subsequently, Iolo's papers were purchased by Benjamin and Augusta Hall, who made them accessible to other scholars. John Williams, alias "Ab Ithel", was among the first to take up the offer; he edited the two volumes now known as Barddas for the Welsh Manuscripts Society, which appeared in 1862 and 1874.[4]


Williams claimed the Barddas material was based on authentic ancient manuscripts originally compiled by the 16th-century antiquarian Llywelyn Siôn. In reality, almost all of it was either Iolo's own work, or heavily edited by him. Volume I is divided into three sections. The first section, "Symbols", chiefly discusses "coelbren", a supposed Bardic alphabet devised by Iolo. The second section, "Theology", is the most significant. It discusses Iolo's elaborate philosophy and cosmology, which he claimed was the actual belief system of the ancient bards, though it is really a variegation of Iolo's own unconventional Christian beliefs and interpretation of Welsh tradition.[5][6] This section includes a "catechism" in the form of a question and answer session regarding the cycle of re-incarnation. It discusses the "circles of being" from Annwn (lowest state, Hades or Fairyland) through circles of Abred (probation state), Gwynfyd (perfect liberty) and Ceugant (infinity).[7] It also includes a number of "Triads" apparently derived from authentic Welsh Triads; according to scholar Rachel Bromwich this suggests Iolo had access to versions of the triads long before they were widely known or collected.[5] The third section, "Wisdom", contains esoteric lore that may date to the 16th and 17th century, though not to ancient druidic tradition as Iolo claims. Volume II was left unfinished at Williams' death; it is largely a guidebook for bards and gorsedds.[5]


  1. ^ Marion Löffler (2007). The literary and historical legacy of Iolo Morganwg, 1826-1926. University of Wales Press. ISBN 978-0-7083-2113-3. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  2. ^ Thomas Spencer Baynes (1833). The Encyclopædia Britannica: a dictionary of arts, sciences, and general literature. C. Scribner's sons. pp. 319. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  3. ^ Adamant Media (June 2001). Barddas; Or, a Collection of Original Documents, Illustrative of the Theology, Wisdom, and Usages of the Bardo-Druidic System of the Isle of Britain: With Translations and Notes. ISBN 978-1-4021-6663-1. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  4. ^ Matthews, pp. xv–xvi.
  5. ^ a b c Matthews, p. xvi.
  6. ^ "Jones". Retrieved 9 March 2013.
  7. ^ T. W. Rolleston (30 January 2010). Myths and Legends of the Celtic Race. Publishing. pp. 227–. ISBN 978-1-4209-3507-3. Retrieved 24 October 2012.


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