The Black Chair

One of the new recruits serving with the 38th Welsh Division was a 30-year old shepherd from Trawsfynydd, Merionethshire, named Ellis Humphrey Evans. He was also a tremendously talented poet, known as Hedd Wyn, and while serving on the Western Front he completed a major poem which he entered for the chair (the most prestigious competition) at the National Eisteddfod.

The festival was held in September that year and, as is the custom, the winning poet’s name was announced and he was invited to stand up so he could be led to the chair. No one stood. Then the Archdruid announced that the winner was Hedd Wyn, but that he had been killed six weeks previously on 31 July, the first day of the campaign at Ypres. In an emotional ceremony, the chair was draped with a black cloth. Ever since then, the occasion has been known as Eisteddfod y Gadair Ddu – the Eisteddfod of the Black Chair.