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Celtic Knot Tattoos

Updated on December 17, 2012

Celtic shield (350-50BC) found in the river at Battersea, London, England

The history of the Celtic people – The Celts – can be traced back some 25 Centuries. Occupying vast areas of land in what is now Eastern Europe,Northern Italy, Greece, Spain, Ireland, Scotland, England , France and Wales. The Celts remain something of an enigma to modern anthropologists and historians as their's was an oral tradition leaving behind no textual evidence of their existence. Instead we are left with their intricate jewelry and carving and the influence of their music which is still a living tradition in the traditional music of Europe. Their artwork inspired early Christian manuscripts with intricate illuminated text, most notably the 'Book of Kells'. The same designs are today a popular choice for tattoos.

The Celts had contact with both the Greeks and later the Romans and it is from their accounts we get an incredible picture of the Celtic warrior. With his limed hair and blue spiralled body paint; wearing his enemies skulls at his belt; he must have looked something like a heavily armed punk-rocker. Although undoubtedly proud and able warriors the Celts where primarily animal herders and used the barter system of commerce up until their contact with other trading nations such as the Vikings and the Romans. Their skills in jewelry and metal craft enabled their influence to spread across the ancient world.

Celtic tattoos embody the many crossings of spiritual and earthly influency that people often seek to sum up in one image when they have a tattoo. Often the designs are used to show pride in Celtic ancestry.



Different shaped knots can have different meanings

The knots are hard to replicate and even harder to design and it is recommended that you have your celtic tattoo created by someone experienced in this type of work.


One of the most popular designs is the Celtic knot. Intricate knots of woven loops symbolise eternity and the cycle of nature, death and rebirth. Sometimes the knots are woven to symbolize birds and animals or mythical creatures. Each of these can have its own special meaning. 

The meaning of the different knots can be open to varying interpretations. With tattoos its what it means to the wearer that is paramount and Celtic knots are a beautiful and time honoured way to express ourselves.

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    • Adams-ebooks profile image

      Adam Finan 6 years ago from Worldwide

      I have a few Celtic tattoos myself and love them. The country is steeped in rich heritage and i enjoy making furniture, mirrors and carvings with traditional celtic designs.

    • profile image

      Robin 7 years ago

      My youngest brother is the son of an Irish lass, and I never see them, being stuck in South Africa. I got myself a celtic knot tattoo, to keep some kind of link with my long lost baby brother. I would like to know more about the particular knot. Can anyone assist?

    • Cathi Sutton profile image

      Cathi Sutton 7 years ago

      Well done! My dad was full blood Irish, and could actually tie many of the knots you described. Any idea where to look up information such things? Thanks for the great Hub!