Voices of Albion Revisited: Iolo Morganwg The Bard of Liberty

LondlevLondputThe initiation of this ongoing thread began, to all intents and purposes, as a response to the New Putney Debates of October and November 2012; when the LSX Occupy Group decided to celebrate the 365th Anniversary of the original Leveller Debates at Putney Church with a similarly radical series of discussions on a series of possible political futures for the country. Unbeknown to many who had taken part in the original Putney Debates, not to mention their Twenty First Century successors, a key figure in the initiation of the original Putney Debates had been Oliver Cromwell; the later Lord Protector.


As has already been noted during an earlier posting on the parallel stream to this present thread, Cromwell’s original family surname of ‘ap Gwilym’. or Williams, was to link him to one of the greatest and most controversial figures in the history of Welsh Bardic Revivalism, that of Edward Williams. Better known by his Non de Plume as Iolo Morganwg, Edward Williams was destined to be the original reviver of the so called ‘Druidic Gorsedd’, on Primrose Hill, in the summer of 1792; and thus a primary source of inspiration to those later Bards and Druids who were to kindle another fire in the Cauldron of Inspiration of the late Wally Hope: erstwhile ‘Reviver’ of the Stonehenge People’s Free Festival.

stagehengeInterestingly enough, like many of the Wallies, the anarcho-spiritual movement that Wally Hope was himself to spawn, Iolo’s own home grown form of revived Druidism was itself to be directly rooted in radical revolutionary politics. Like many of Iolo’s contemporaries, he himself was to be greatly inspired by the great tide of revolutionary ideas that was to sweep across Europe and North America at the end of the eighteenth century. And, like William Blake, who had been similarly influenced by events across the other side of the Atlantic, Iolo’s own personal brand of Ancient Druidic philosophy was likewise to be rooted in the original Leveller concept that some sort of primitive democracy had existed in Britain before the coming of the Romans; and that for a limited period of time, between the departure of the Roman Legions for mainland Europe as the Empire that they served had descended into the chaos of military anarchy that had ushered in the Dark Ages, and the arrival of the Normans in Britain, these ancient indigenous democratic institutions had been temporarily and partially revived.

At the bottom of this posting I have embedded the first episode of the six part Youtube edit of my 2007 independent film ‘Voices of Albion: Levellers, Luddites, Diggers and Dongas in Traditional and Contemporary Folklore’; which examines Iolo’s inspirational links to the Age of Enlightenment that was to spawn him. In the next posting we shall look further at some of the ideas that we have already touched on, at various other stages in this ongoing thread, in relation to what readers are about to view here; as well as setting ourselves along the road to examining a great deal more, in terms of the history and development of the ideas that were at the hub of both the Leveller and the New Putney Debates, than I myself was able to look at during the course of a single one off documentary.


About Rupert Ferguson

A lineal descendant of Captain Robert Ferguson (1719-1799) the older brother of the great Scottish Enlightenment Philosopher and historian Adam Ferguson (1723-1816); the friend of Hume, Gibbon and Adam Smith. Also related to the great feminist author and playwright Rachel Ferguson. Have written extensively on a vast range of subjects, been published in print as book author and in various journals and magazines into the bargain. Early work as an underground film maker on the early Goa Trance and radical anti-CJB political scene in the 1990s has since become more refined and ambitious and I have since been a regular contributor to such high profile events as the Portobello Film Festival Annual Film Maker's Convention.....
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