A FARMER has gathered beeswax from her hives and slate from a nearby quarry to make the chair that will seat Welsh literary royalty this summer.

The earliest crowning of the Welsh bard, known as the eisteddfod, roughly translated as ‘being seated’, was held in 1176 when Lord Rhys gathered poets, musicians and performers at his castle in Cardigan. He wanted to honour to the best writer of ‘awdl’, poetry which has stress, alliteration and rhyme in every sentence.

However it was not until the 18th and 19th centuries that the eisteddfod grew to a level similar to the Welsh culture and arts festivals that would follow, including the National Eisteddfod, Urdd Eisteddfod and the Llangollen International Eisteddfod.

A new bardic chair is now specially made for each eisteddfod to mark the achievements of those committed to Welsh language and culture, and the seat of the National Eisteddfod 2019 in Llanrwst has been decorated by Pentrefoelas farm owner Gwenan Jones.

She was commissioned after her design was chosen by the Farmers’ Union of Wales’ competition for the best entry. Mrs Jones used wool from her own flock of sheep, as well as locally sourced slate and copper to create features that represent the Conwy Valley where she spent her childhood.

Mrs Jones is well-versed in arts and crafts after studying art, design and manufacturing at Cardiff Metropolitan University’s School of Art and Design.

Her design includes the valley etched onto a piece of slate on the front of the seat, and the River Conwy rushing beneath Llanrwst Bridge and down the back to symbolise it as the backbone of the county. There is also a sculpture of a riverside fisherman and shepherd’s crook to symbolise the county and its rural cultures.

Gwynedd Watkin, Farmers’ Union of Wales executive officer for Caernarfon, said: “This chair is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful, ever seen on the stage of the National Eisteddfod.”

A total of 39 awards will be given by the Gorsedd of Bards this year. They include Pierino Algieri, the son of an Italian prisoner of war who was raised to speak Welsh in the Conwy Valley and is now a celebrated landscape photographer; Ken Owens, Grand Slam winning rugby player who regularly gives Welsh-language interviews; and Elin Angharad Davies, talented Welsh musician who co-ordinates the Llanrwst Harp Project to raise awareness of the history of the harp.