The Search for the Chief Bard of the Fens is now on!
13th June 2007 – Flag Fen, Britain 's Bronze Age Centre announces the 2008 ‘Battle of the Bards' competition now open, for contestant's who wish to compete for title of ‘Chief Bard of the Fens'. The competition is part of the Flag Fen Eisteddfod, an open community festival of music, poetry and storytelling including stalls, workshops, art displays and children's activities, which will run on the 14th and 15th June 2008. Contestants will have 15 minutes to woo the judges and captivate the minds of the audience through stories, music or verse. The winner shall receive their title in a special chairing ceremony, on the Bardic Chair of Flag Fen.
According to legend 31 English cities were once ancient Bardic seats and therefore had the right to elect their own Bard each year through open competition. The Bardic tradition which is an offshoot of a much older Druidic practise has been largely revived today. The ancient Bardic seats, which were claimed by the Chief Bards of their locality, were usually associated to a sacred location within the city like a burial mound or man-made hill which makes Flag Fen the perfect location for the event.
Reconstructed Bronze Age Roundhouses at Flag Fen
Flag Fen's Bardic Chair is being made by a local rustic furniture maker, with locally sourced bog oak in keeping with the theme. A smaller version of the chair already used by storyteller's can be seen in the Iron Age Roundhouse at Flag Fen. The Bardic Chair will remain at Flag Fen and the ‘Chief Bard of the Fens' has a duty to attend their chair at least twice in their title year. With chairs already revived in Glastonbury, Bath and London, Peterborough is set to be next on the Bardic map.
Jody Williams, Organiser, commented “We hope the Eisteddfod will spark the imaginations in the young and the old as stories are a great way of bringing communities together and learning about different cultures. This is important in a city such as Peterborough that has a vast multi-cultural population as stories can deepen cultural understanding and bring a sense of acceptance and belonging whether historical or fiction. Oral stories bring communities to life allowing audiences to soak themselves in historical imagery as the teller and listener journey together to different places meeting a range of characters. We hope the Eisteddfod and our other storytelling projects will encourage more people to explore their creative side and take an active interest in local literary projects which aim to raise the standards of local talent.“
The Eisteddfod has been announced a year and a day in keeping in with ancient tradition and is also supported by Peterborough's Central Library who will be hosting their ‘Young Poets of the Year 2008' final on the Saturday.