The Celtic poet was, without a doubt, the most feared and respected group in post-Roman Britain.
The bard was a separate class of beings, trained from early age. All records among them were strictly oral so that there no way of knowing exactly how they were educated. However, what is known is that a candidate was expected to learn the body of Celtic mythology as well as much of the local history, motifs, and oral speaking techniques.
A bard trainee was expected to be able to create impromptu poetry. Aneirin, one of the survivors of Catterick, composed the massive poem known as Y Gododdin overnight.
After training was completed, it is likely that they were apprenticed to an experienced bard for a time. This would have been followed by time as a journeyman. A journeyman bard who impressed a king or some other person of wealth might be offered a permanent place.
The bard had numerous responsibilities. These would depend on the audience and his position.
- Entertainment: Whether in a village or a hall, all bards were expected to enthrall audiences.
- Teacher: As the keeper of all lore and much of Celtic history, a bard was expected to convey the depth and breadth of his culture.
- Pedigree Keeper: If a bard was asked to be a king's bard, his Penn Beirdd, one of his new duties would be to create or, if one already existed, to maintain and update a pedigree. This would include naming kings as far back as was remembered, but then adding in other local kings who had not been a part of the family but whose fame could add to the royal standing. Finally, a lineage had to be founded by a god, euhemerized or not. Belatacudros was the most common choice among the British, though Maxen Wledig (the Roman upstart emperor Maximus) was also popular.