Iolo's Legacy

Iolo Morganwg's legacy exercised a powerful hold on the Welsh mind during the nineteenth century. It was Elijah Waring's biography of Iolo, entitled Recollections and Anecdotes of Edward Williams (1850), which provided the basis for the construction of a mythical figure who connected the Welsh with the eighteenth-century renaissance in Welsh learning and with an idealized pre-industrial people.

The legacy of bardism found public ceremonial expression in the Gorsedd of the Bards of the Island of Britain. The counterfeit material which Iolo had added to the sources of Welsh history came to the aid of Welsh scholars who were searching for a core historical narrative in a century during which romanticism and nationalism jointly created a sustained demand for a historicist view of nationhood. Iolo Morganwg's hymns and poems, however, were only appreciated by members of his small Unitarian church.

An indirect aspect of Iolo Morganwg's legacy was the comprehensive critique of his work, which allowed professional Welsh scholars to correct their national historical narrative along scientific lines. This is discussed by Marion Löffler in her monograph, The Literary and Historical Legacy of Iolo Morganwg, 1826-1926 (Cardiff, 2007)]