Overview About Celtic Tattoos Design

In recent years Celtic Tattoos have enjoyed a revival. We specialize in historical knotwork and Celtic ornamental style Tattooing. Our research on the subject has provided a wealth of new and exciting knots for applications as Tattoos. Anyone who desires a Historical Celtic Tattoo, Mythological Celtic Tattoo or a pride in their heritage Celtic Tattoo will be pleased with our vast collection of custom Celtic art.

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.

Celtic Cross Tattoos

The Celtic cross (aka Irish cross) is the standard Christian cross, but with a circle around the intersection. Intricate knotwork adorns the cross, making it both simple (in its overall design) and complex at the same time.

The legend goes that the Celtic cross was “designed” by Saint Patrick who was trying to convert the pagan Irish people. The Celtic cross is a combination of the Christian cross and the sun, which was worshipped by the druids.

The Celtic cross is also used by neo-fascist movements, albeit in a very simple design and without ornamentations.

The meaning of Celtic crosses is not really clear and varies a lot:

  • For Catholic people the circle is a symbol of eternity, for them the Celtic cross symbolizes the infinity of God’s love.
  • In the ancient world of the druids, the Celtic cross was a phallic symbol.
  • For neo pagans the Celtic cross is the symbol for the sun.

A Celtic cross is a popular choice for the upper arm – a great spot in general to put a tattoo, as that location makes it easy to hide it and show it, as you wish.

Also popular (amongst neo pagans) is the ankh cross tattoo in the Celtic style. The ankh cross is Egyptian in origin and has many meanings as well. Go here to learn more about ankh tattoos.

Celtic Butterfly Tattoos

Celtic butterfly tattoos are quite popular nowadays as well. Butterflies have a similar symbolic meaning in many cultures:

  • The butterfly is a symbol for rebirth and transformation. Just like a beautiful butterfly comes out of his cocoon, the person who wears a butterfly tattoo has gone through some difficult times and is ready to face the world again.
  • In some cultures the butterfly is the personification of someone’s soul.

The Celtic butterfly tattoo is often quite small and feminine looking, making it appropriate for the ankle or shoulder. The butterfly is also often seen as a lower back tattoo, adorned with Celtic swirls.

Celtic Knot Tattoos

Celtic knots (aka mystic knot, endless knot) work really well as a tattoo design or part of a tattoo. The symbolic meaning of Celtic knots is not really clear, although some people attribute magical powers to the knots.

One type of Celtic knot is the Celtic love knot, symbolizing the constancy of two people in love.

For me, Celtic knot tattoos symbolize eternity because the lines of the knotwork form an endless loop, without a beginning or an end.

The Celtic trinity knot is a very simple, but powerful symbol and very suitable for a tattoo. It is a triangle knot, the 3 corners have various meanings:


Father, Son and Holy Spirit


Mother, Crone and Maiden

New Age

Mind, body and spirit

The Celtic Shamrock

Nothing symbolizes Ireland (homeland of all Celtic design) more aptly than the shamrock (a three-leafed clover), the quintessential Celtic design.

The shamrock is the symbol for the Holy Trinity in the Irish Catholic church.

It is often confused with the four-leaved clover, a very auspicious symbol to have on your body (the chances of finding a clover are 10.000 to 1)! Each leaf has a different symbolic meaning:

  • The first leaf stands for hope
  • The second means faith
  • The third clover leaf stands for love
  • The last leaf stands for luck

Celtic Heart Tattoo

A Celtic heart tattoo symbolizes the union of souls and is a good tattoo to express your devotion to your loved ones. They are also known as love knot tattoos.

The Irish Claddagh Tattoo

A Claddagh ring is a wedding or friendship ring, the symbol is also used as a tattoo design. It depicts a heart with a crown, held by two hands.

  • The heart stands for love.
  • The hands for friendship.
  • The crown stands for loyalty.

Celtic Tree Of Life Tattoo

A Celtic tree of life tattoo is usually one of the bigger Celtic tattoo designs. The tree of life is not a traditional Celtic design, it first appeared in the Book of Kells (an illustrated manuscript made by Celtic monks around 800 AD).

The tree of life tattoo is a symbol for:

  • The tree of life in the Garden of Eden.
  • The axis mundi (center of the world): the connecting line between the underworld, the earth and the sky.

Other Celtic Tattoo Art

Lots of animal images are included in traditional Celtic art:


A Celtic dog tattoo symbolizes loyalty and good luck.


Eagles were linked to death in Celtic mythology.


The horse was a sacred animal for the Celts. A horse tattoo is linked to mystery and magic.

Ravens and Other Birds

Are associated with death in Celtic mythology.

Bear and Bear Claw

A Celtic bear tattoo is a symbol of power.


The Celtic dragon is associated with power and magic. Discover more about dragon tattoos.


A lion tattoo stands for strength and nobility.

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