Crowning achievement for our Welsh wordsmith

Eisteddfod crown winner Elinor Gwynn with silversmith Deborah Edwards

One of the highlight’s of Wales’ annual National Eisteddfod is the awarding of the Eisteddfod crown. This year, at the festival held in Abergavenny, that honour went to our very own bilingual champion, Elinor Gwynn.

From her base at Penrhyn Castle in Gwynedd, Elinor is currently working with the National Trust across Wales as a Language Heritage Officer. Over a period of three years she is looking at how we can make the most of our distinctive, bilingual culture in Wales. Working with staff and volunteers, and also with external partners, she is providing advice and support, and delivering activities which will help the National Trust become a leading bilingual organisation.

She is also a gifted poet (though she may not know it) and her way with words has now been acknowledged by the National Eisteddfod. The Eisteddfod crown is awarded each year for a piece of poetry in Welsh and this year Elinor contributed to the theme of ‘Llwybrau’ (Pathways). Entries are submitted anonymously and so no one has any idea of the winner until he or she stands up in the Pavilion.

Feeling of community

Elinor said: “As much as I enjoy writing I didn’t really imagine that I’d be wearing the Eisteddfod crown one day. And I’ve been so lucky to have won this particular crown with its images of landscapes, wildlife, buildings, traditions and legends in a corner of Wales that I’ve gradually come to know and love over the last decade.

“The ceremony itself was enjoyable and far more relaxed than I expected, but the most memorable thing has been the wave of congratulations from people all over Wales and the incredible feeling of a whole community celebrating the continuation of an ancient tradition.”       

The National Eisteddfod is an annual celebration of Welsh language and culture which takes place in the first week of August. Crafting the Eisteddfod crown is a special commission, which was also a shining moment in the career of Monmouthshire silversmith Deborah Edwards.

Landscape and legends

The crown is always made by a craftsperson from the area where the Eisteddfod is being held. Deborah, who has a workshop between Abergavenny and Usk, fashioned hers with a series of jointed panels depicting a different aspect of the landscape in Monmouthshire – such as Abergavenny market hall, the Skirrid, the Kymin, Sugar Loaf, a window in Tintern Abbey, Usk bridge and the Twrch Trwyth, a famous boar from the Mabinogi legends. The blue wool in the centre of the crown was also handwoven locally by the weaver Sioni Rhys, who used a traditional and  local Llanover weave.

Deborah said: “I really wanted to work on this commission and it’s been one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done. The ceremony itself was amazing and I’m so proud to have been a part of it.”

You can watch a video of Elinor's crowning moment here http://www.bbc.co.uk/cymrufyw/36943406