Celtic Tattoos

Originating from what is now known as Ireland, Wales, Scotland and lower England, Celtic tattoos were worn by warriors to intimidate their enemies while in battle.

Originating from what is now known as Ireland, Wales, Scotland and lower England, Celtic tattoos were worn by warriors to intimidate their enemies while in battle.

History of Celtic Tattoos

Celtic tattoos were invented as a battle tactic in the Iron Age and Medieval periods.

Originally, Celtic tattoos were worn on the chests and arms of Celtic warriors. The ink was made from the leaves of the Woad plant. To intimidate their enemies, the Celtics fought bare-skinned to expose their tattoos.

These days, Celtic tattoos are worn as a way for people to honour their culture, represent their strengths or solely because they like the look.

Characteristics of Celtic Tattoos

Steeped in rich historical and cultural significance, defining characteristics of Celtic tattoos include

  • Intricate designs
  • Bold lines
  • Inclusion of knots, spirals and geometric shapes

Celtic Tattoo Designs and Meanings

Some of the most common Celtic tattoo designs and meanings include

Celtic knots
Celtic knots are the most popular Celtic symbol. They are made up of bold lines that weave together to create an endless loop. A Celtic knot tattoo symbolises the cycle of birth, death and rebirth.
Dara Celtic knot
Symbolising inner strength, wisdom and leadership, the Dara Celtic knot is a common symbol shaped to resemble an oak tree. The ancient Celts respected the oak tree because of how long it lived, thus making it a powerful symbol of strength.
The Quaternary Celtic knot
Symbolising the four cornerstones of life, the Celtics wore this type of knot as a tattoo to represent balance and harmony.
The Trinity knot
The ancient Celts thought very highly of the number three, represented in the Trinity knot. Due to the three sides, the Trinity knot can symbolise the three parts of nature (land, sky and sea) or the three parts of the Christian Holy Trinity (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit).
Celtic shield knot
The Celtic shield knot symbolises strength and protection. The ancient Celts wore it as a protective charm, calling on the gods to protect them during battle. Today, the Celtic shield knot can be seen as a symbol of strength or resilience.
Celtic cross
Dating back to the Middle Ages, the Celtic Cross is a popular symbol in Ireland. Although there are many different meanings of what the Celtic Cross represents, some of the most common ones are that it represents continuity and eternity, the four elements or the four directions.
The Celtic Tree of Life
Symbolising unity, balance and continuity, the Celtic Tree of Life is a popular symbol within Celtic tattoo designs.
The Triskele (Triskelion)
Made up of three arms spiraling from a common centre, the Triskele symbolises how life, movement and change happen in cycles. When an individual has a Triskele tattoo, it represents personal growth, spiritual growth and human growth.
The Five Fold Symbol
Made up of four circles that come together to form a fifth circle in the middle, the Five Fold Symbol represents how the four elements (earth, air, fire and water) work together. This symbol is not only a central part of Celtic culture but with others as well.
Celtic raven
In Celtic mythology, ravens are seen as messengers from the other world coming back to tell the future or share wisdom. The Celtic raven tattoo represents personal change.
Celtic wolf
In Celtic culture, the wolf is seen as a strong, loyal, committed creature; therefore, the Celtic wolf tattoo often represents a person committed to their family or community.

If you’re considering getting a Celtic tattoo, book an appointment at your nearest Celebrity Ink tattoo studio to see how we can make your vision a reality.

Book a consult