If you are interested in Celtic jewelry, you may also be interested in the meaning of the common symbols that appear in Celtic jewelry designs. There are many places in Ireland, such as museums or Churchyards, where these symbols remain, as powerful, sacred reminders of the past.
You can enjoy a deeper understanding of your special pendant, ring, or earrings, if you know more about where it comes from, and what it means. We’ve compiled an easy guide that will allow you to understand the common symbols of Celtic jewelry designs, and we’ve also found some wonderful Irish landmarks and treasures, where you can see the symbols found in your jewelry.
Common Celtic Symbols – A Quick Guide
Shamrocks – The Shamrock, with its distinctive, three-leaf design, was used by Saint Patrick to demonstrate the presence of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in the natural world. The Shamrock had become synonymous with Ireland, as a symbol of Christianity.
Spirals – These popular symbols are often intricate in design, and they have fascinated both Celtic and non-Celtic people with their mysterious beauty. Spirals are thought to symbolize the continuous nature of life and growth, always moving outward. The gaps between each spiral are also important, as they symbolize the three different modes of being: birth, death, and spiritual rebirth.
Knots – Traditional Celtic knot work is meant to symbolize the interconnectedness of all things, through its flowing lines and curves. Knot work is also thought to have spiritual meaning, representing the eternal nature of God’s love.
Crosses – Celtic Crosses are composed much like traditional, Christian crosses, only the Celtic version has a central ring which symbolizes eternity. Some historians feel that the central ring was borrowed from the Druids, who used it as a symbol of the Sun.
Here are some are Irish landmarks and art treasures that utilize the symbols we’ve discussed above:
Shamrocks can be found all over Ireland: you only need to look to the rolling green hills and fields of the Emerald Isle. The Shamrock can also be found on the coats of arms of the President of Ireland.
Spirals can be found on the Ardagh Chalice, an Irish treasure of war, which is also decorated with warrior symbols. This silver, gold, and jewel-studded relic is thought to date from the fifth century. The Ardagh Chalice currently rests in the National Museum of Ireland.
Knots can be found all through the Irish Book of Kells, Ireland’s greatest national art treasure. The Book of Kells is an ancient, illuminated text featuring the first four books of the New Testament. Intricate knot work is used to decorate the pages of this sacred text, often in the form of borders. The Book of Kells is kept at the prestigious Trinity College, in Dublin.
Celtic Crosses can be found in Churchyards all over Ireland. Today, many families choose a Celtic Cross to mark the grave of their loved ones, as well. Some notable examples of ancient Celtic crosses in specific churchyards, are the crosses at the Clonmacnoise Tower cemetery, and at the monastery at Monasterboice, where many fine examples of ancient crosses are found.