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o About Celtic Art and Celts o The Celtic Knot o The Celtic Revival

o The Celtic Cross

o The Cross of Muiredach in Monasterboice o The Cross of Ardboe o The Cross of Durrow

About Celtic Art and Celts

Celtic art is a form of art closely related to peoples that spoke the Celtic language, as well as peoples of uncertain languages that share many common features in their art with those above-mentioned. This form of art is hard to define, as it appears over a large span of time and in a wide geographical space, stretching from the British Isles to modern-day Romania, Hungary, Czech Republic and Croatia as well as Germany, Switzerland and France. The term 'Celt' is used to define a people that spoke a group of languages of Indo-European origin, thought to have spread on the continent from a central point located somewhere in south-eastern Europe. This might have happened by means of invasion and large movements of people, although no one can be sure of this because of the lack of written documents. More recent genetic studies show that not all Celtic groups have a common genetic background and this suggests that the culture has spread by diffusion, through trade and other types of social contact, rather than being forced by migration. Because of their lack of written records, we only know of the Celts through the eyes of the Romans and other, more civilized societies of the past and through objects found in their former cities, villages and tombs, objects covered in complex and intricate, highly decorative drawings full of floral and zoomorphic motifs that cover all available space.

Celtic Knot

Celtic interlace art, more popularly known as Celtic knots, first appeared around the middle of the seventh century A.D. in close relation to the Irish Church, despite the wide-spread belief that all things 'Celtic' have a pagan heritage. There are two theories regarding the introduction of the interlace to the vocabulary of Celtic Art.

Celtic Art in the 7th century consists of two main types of interlaces: the first one is knotwork and the second type of interlace is the zoomorphic interlace.

Decorations from the Book of Durrow

Examples of Celtic zoomorphic interlace

The Celtic Revival

Some of the most important events in the Celtic Revival are: J. Romilly Allen's and Margaret Stoke's books or the discovery of the Tara Brooch. Reproductions of the Tara Brooch were sold to important figures in the social life of England, such as Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

From 1899 to 1941, a jewel company founded on the isle called Iona Celtic Art produced Celtic-styled bracelets, hairpins, necklaces and other jewels based on models appropiated from the old monuments and designs found on the isle of Iona.
Examples of jewels produced by Iona Celtic Art

The Celtic Cross

The cross is the most ancient and powerful of symbols, uniting the vertical with the horizontal. The origin of the Celtic cross is not known There are several legends regarding the birth and transformation of the cross from Celtic symbol to Christian tradition and the importance it has.

One of the legends attributes the appearance of the Celtic cross to St.Patrick, who preached the Gospel among the Celtic tribes somewhere between 387-493. He is said to have turned a pagan symbol, which Celts held in high regards, into a Christian symbol, somehow representing the union of old and new ways, thus converting the Celts to Christianity.

The Celtic cross was used as a Christian symbol to represent the union of Heaven and Earth. In the opinion of German Virt, the Celtic cross represents a kind of ancient calendar. The circle symbolizes the time (day, year), and the cross symbolizes the space (the universe), the four corners of the world (North, West, East, South).The center circle is the divinity that is outside space and time.

The crosses which were found are made of stone. Stones are also considered a symbol of eternal life. The beauty of these high crosses lies in the multitude of scenes engraved on them that show important biblical scenes or traditional Celtic design patterns. The crosses that survived to these days in Ireland and the United Kingdom are known as high crosses.


standing at 3.60 metres,the Cross of Durrow is one of the high crosses. it was found in the middle of the 6th century is famous because here was written in the 7th century an illuminated manuscript known as the Book of Durrow. it shows scenes such as David with his harp, David and the lion, the raised Christ flanked by two angels hovering above St Peter and St Paul, Christ with sceptre and cross -staff, associated with the last judgement, the arrest of Christ and also the central panel is a beautiful celtic interlace.


Is made of sandstone and date to around the 10th century it gets its name from an inscription at the base of the west face, saying it was erected by Muiredach. The cross is around 5.2 metres high. The theme of the cross is Christ the King, Lord of the Earth. Also we have details showing Christ being mocked by roman soldiers, Adam and Eve in the garden, Cain slaying Abel, or scenes from the Old Testament and scenes from the New Testament. The Inscription at the base of the west side is a prayer for Muiredach who had the cross erected.


the third highest cross in Ireland and the tallest in Northern Ireland It was found in the 10th century Is a sandstone cross stands to a height of 5.6 metres The West Face pictured right bears many biblical scenes. 1. Adoration of Magi. 2. Wedding at Canna. 3. Loaves and Fishes. 4. Christ enters Jerusalem 5. Mocking or Arrest of Christ The West Head bears a crucifixion scene.

The Celts were a realistic people whos rural theology was formed in a very natural context. Tertullian from Cartagina, in one of his writings in 210 AD, referred to the British areas as inaccessible to the Romans, but subjected to Christ, which discloses the existence of early Christianity independent of Rome. Also, Taliesin, a Gaelic poet of Strathclyde, said that "Jesus has been from the beginning our teacher and we have never lost his teaching .

The way back to the origins of Christianity in the British Isles passes, as the Celtic knot does, somewhere beyond beginnings or the ends into a continuous state, overflowing with the presence of God, which manifests itself in different ways at different times.