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Celtic Tattoo Art History

Updated on March 10, 2014

Celtic Tattoo History

The Celtic art form has been around for thousands of years and it is one that I like in Celtic tattoos with all the many designs and Celtic knot work you see in various tattoo designs, the Celts transferred their unique designs into many areas of their life, in jewelry, weapons and other metal items such as shields and broaches, although they were quite handy in battle as warriors, today they are much remembered for their Celtic art from artefact's surviving today from Ireland and in the UK, but also as far a field as north America.

Not much is recorded about Celtic history, but it seems after a certain period in history, the art form of the Celts seemed to become inspired for certain art movements, although it is hard to know if these influences we

The symbols of the Celtic design have evolved over the years, but the designs remain as intricate as they were many years ago and quite possibly modern Celtic designs are even more complex with the knot work especially in tattoo art designs.

When stone and metal work way back in history was popular was when Celtic tattoos were at their height and in Ireland Celtic tattoos are considered the place were they were from, the Trinity College in Dublin houses many old documents with Celtic writing and symbols found in these ancient manuscripts, which seem to suggest that writing and an art was one central thing.

The classic Celtic design is of loops and swirls that never end, which is supposed to symbolize a never ending cycle of death and rebirth, but with this being the most popular Celtic tattoo design is also the hardest to tattoo as it does take a bit of practice with drawing the knot work so that it all interconnects correctly, but fortunately there are some good books on the subject.

Although there are some variations featuring animals which means that the strands of Celtic bands end with tails, heads or feet or hooves.

Although the actual meaning of knotted Celtic tattoos can't be pinned down with a literal translation, but the general idea is that the interlacing of each knot represents a repetition of spiritual and physical elements of life, love and faith and the deeper connection could have been personalized with each design for Celtic heritage but also an emotional attachment.

The Celts were spread out mainly in three groups in Welsh, Scots and Irish descent and back in the days of clans carried with it a pride of heritage with tattoo designs that would later pay tribute to their ancestors.

If you are considering getting a Celtic tattoo, then you will have to find a good tattoo artist who has done a large body of Celtic designs in the past, and quite often they have researched well the history of the Celtic art form and together with that they have a steady hand and a brilliant eye for detail and tattoo line art placement.

Celtic Tattoo Art

Celtic Tattoo Art.    Image copyright 2010.
Celtic Tattoo Art. Image copyright 2010.

Celtic Knotwork Designs Books On Amazon To Buy

Celtic Art

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    • JLBender profile image


      7 years ago from Greensburg, PA

      I love celtic art. If I was going to get a tattoo, it would be something along these lines. Thanks for showing the pics.

    • butterfly Tattoo profile image

      butterfly Tattoo 

      7 years ago from Dallas Texas

      As a celt myself I love these tattoos

    • waynet profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Tully 

      8 years ago from Hull City United Kingdom

      Cheers there! celtic knotwork isn't hard to draw, so I may do a further hubpage about it!

    • knell63 profile image


      8 years ago from Umbria, Italy

      Great piece,I love Celtic knots such good patterns and interesting designs.

    • kmkgyrl profile image


      8 years ago from VA

      Very informative, and definately a beautiful choice for body art! =o)

    • waynet profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Tully 

      9 years ago from Hull City United Kingdom

      Yes, I'll have fun creating that one.

      Cheers now!

    • Erin LeFey profile image

      Erin LeFey 

      9 years ago from Maryland

      that would be an excellent followup! i look forward to reading it!

    • waynet profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Tully 

      9 years ago from Hull City United Kingdom

      Cheers Amber!

      Thanks for that little bit more insight there into the celtic knot designs meaning, I'm a great fan of celtic crosses and even celtic circle designs that I've seen must take some practice to draw, I'll be creating a drawing hubpage about the celtic design later in the year!

    • Amber Allen profile image

      Amber Allen 

      9 years ago

      I know nothing about tattoos but I'm fascinated by Celtic knots! The interweaving is also considered by some to symbolise how we are interwoven with all those around us and two interwoven lines are frequently used to represent a lovers' knot. It was also believed that the interlacing could provide protection against evil, with a greater protection being provided by a greater amount of interlacing. Great hub!

    • waynet profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Tully 

      9 years ago from Hull City United Kingdom

      Cheers Erin and Nancy!

      I've always liked celtic tattoo art designs as I have practiced drawing them for years and so a follow up to this hubpage will be how to draw celtic tattoo art.

    • profile image

      Nancy's Niche 

      9 years ago

      This is a great hub on the beautiful designs by the Celts. I think the Celtic knots are gorgeous...

    • Erin LeFey profile image

      Erin LeFey 

      9 years ago from Maryland

      My favorite designs, Celtic knots and bands! I have a double Celtic heart knot band around my ankle with a Celtic knot shamrock piercing it. I am so proud of it! I always stop to talk with other clannies at festivals about their tattoos, there is a story behind every tattoo, but a proud and spiritual one behind Celtic knot tattoos.

      Great Hub, Erin

    • ethel smith profile image

      Ethel Smith 

      9 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      I love these patterns

    • waynet profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Tully 

      9 years ago from Hull City United Kingdom

      Yes the celtic tribal band tattoos are another popular variation and it's something that I will probably get in time, don't know when don't know where, but soon!

      I do like the celtic crosses though, one of them on my shoulder would look ace, but needles are scary lookin!

    • zzron profile image


      9 years ago from Houston, TX.

      I believe some of these tattoos are also called tribal band tattoos most common only going half way around the arm. I have one that goes all the way around, kind of spiky thorn look. Nice hub.

    • waynet profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Tully 

      9 years ago from Hull City United Kingdom

      Cheers tattooguy!

      Yep sort of an abbreviated history lesson, but a great art form with the celtic art.

      I've seen lots of those types of tattoo designs all over the place.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I know a few people with these tattoos across their arms, they deff look good. Nice lil history lesson and good title !


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