Celtic rings are a very popular choice for engagement and wedding bands. First of all let’s discover some of the history behind Celtic culture.
Most people believe that the Celtic people originated in either Ireland or the west coast of Great Britain.
Due to recent discoveries, researchers have confirmed that the Celts were active in Austria and central Europe many years before around the time of the late bronze age c.800 BCE
Due to the fact that they left no written record, the history of Celtic people is quite often based on myth and legend.
What is certain though is that the Celts were masters of their trade and among the first to use iron weapons around 600 BCE (The Iron Age). In contrast to popular belief, the Celtic people were far from being a primitive culture. Among them were some of the best artists in the world and wealthy merchants trading in gold, silver and bronze.
As a result there is a vast collection of ancient designs available. Many of which have great spiritual significance.
Celtic influence in ancient Britain
Certainly, we know that the Celts arrived in Britain and Ireland around 500 BCE possibly fleeing from The Roman Empire. Consequently, Ireland’s Bronze Age gave way to Celtic culture soon after 400 BCE
Discoveries show that there were many tribes of Celts living in Ireland at the time and there is still evidence today of their existence.
Most noteworthy, is the Celtic artwork which was discovered by explorers in many locations. It is still used to decorate many items today.
Celtic Rings and jewellery are always popular and it seems like these classic designs will never go out of fashion.
A brief history of Celtic Jewellery
It is thought that Celtic Jewellery originated from the Iron Age until around 550 CE.
The Celts used silver and gold to create pieces based around traditional Celtic knots and symbols.
The traditional designs are well sought after around the world and always remain popular
The symbols used in today’s Celtic Jewellery are mostly unchanged. They have the same significance as the early Celts created perhaps over 3000 years ago.
The most popular designs used to decorate Celtic rings are traditional knots. These ancient patterns are often featured on the ring as a continuous band around the finger.
Likewise, Claddagh rings are also very popular and there are many choices available. The traditional style is a heart clasped by two hands with a crown at the top. These are worn by both men and women and are available in plain gold or silver. Even more meaningful is a Claddagh ring which is set with a gemstone such as green agate. Many people associate the colour green with the Irish culture.
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Next, we will look at some of the designs and their meanings:
Celtic knot designs
Celtic knots have a never ending characteristic of interwoven strands. Many of the Celtic rings featured here are based on the most popular designs.
The designs are steeped in history and each knot has a special meaning
You may notice that there is no beginning and no end. These endless or ‘mystic knots’ as they are sometimes called, would in theory, be immovable if pulled tight.
Eight elementary knots were identified by the archeologist John Romilly Allen. He stated that these knots formed the basis of most patterns used in Celtic art.
These can further be split into four categories:
- Triangular (Triskele) Designs
- Animal Interlace
- Circular Knots
- Squares (Shield Knots)
The most important and very popular is the Trinity Knot or Triquetra. This is an intricate triangular shape and like all Celtic designs it is never ending. Wicca enthusiasts will see the Triquetra as a symbol of protection. It represents the trinity and the Celtic belief that everything comes in threes. In Christianity the knot denotes The Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Triquetra also represents mind, body and spirit. This makes the design an excellent choice to decorate an engagement or wedding ring as a way to express closeness in a relationship. Triquetra designs first appeared quite late in the 5th Century. In contrast, spirals appeared much earlier around 600 BCE
One of the oldest Celtic symbols is the Triskele which is spiral in design. It has three that originate from the center and was first discovered at a ruined temple in Ireland. Examples have also been found in Central America, Greece and Columbia. It is believed that Druids adopted Celtic spirals from other cultures. However, there is no evidence to support this belief as it is forbidden in the Druid faith to keep records.
The Celtic Triskele is believed to represent the cycle of life: birth, death and re-birth
These designs are often used as a decorative element and can often contain men and animals intertwined with quite complex geometric patterns. It is believed that they represent relationships of men to women or prey to their hunters.
They may be comprised of other motifs which are looped and knotted. Often used to fill spaces these patterns are also common in other medieval cultures.
Believed to symbolise cycles of life, the Circular Knot can also represent unity. Many people assume that the endless quality of Celtic knots is a sign of eternity and not unlike a horizontal figure eight. The eternal knot has been around since the fifth century. Descriptions of it were recorded by monks in the book of Durrow and the book of Kells
Often referred to as “shield knots”, Celtic square designs are believed to protect us from evil spirits. It was common practice to place these symbols near sick people or prominently displayed on a battle shield.
Shield knots are easily recognisable by their four distinct corners which are normally square. This symbol can sometimes be surrounded by a circle and is believed to protect the bearer from danger.
Other Common Celtic Symbols
Another more recent addition to Celtic symbolism is the Celtic heart and as you would expect is intended as a symbol of love.
Instantly recognisable as Ireland’s national flower, the shamrock was once used to repel evil. Allegedly, St. Patrick picked a shamrock to prove the existence of the holy trinity. Also used by some mystics in the past as the petals of a shamrock will stand up when a storm is approaching.
The Irish Claddagh Symbol
Similarly, the Claddagh is also a traditional Irish symbol.
The legend surrounding the Claddagh began in the 16th century when an Irish fisherman who was due to be married was captured by pirates. He was sold into slavery after being taken to Africa. Fortunately he escaped and returned to his homeland. He discovered that his former loved one had never married so he designed a ring to symbolise love, friendship and loyalty. This design is known today as “The Claddagh” and there are many examples of this to be found in modern jewellery.
The Celtic Cross
Probably the most familiar symbol associated with the Celts, is the Celtic cross. Probably because legend states that Saint Patrick drew a cross on a Druid rock in an attempt to convert them to Christianity. It is said that Saint Patrick took the ancient sun symbol to combine it with a Christian cross in order to create the Celtic version.
The Druids were well established by the time Saint Patrick arrived in Ireland and may have been using the shape as a navigational device. The circles that are found on a Celtic cross represent the sun and eternal life.
St. Brigid Cross
Likewise, although a lesser known symbol, the Saint Brigid cross is also very significant. Saint Brigid was born in Dundalk, Ireland in 453 CE. Alongside Saint Patrick, she is one of the most revered saints in Ireland and responsible for the spread of Christianity.
Legend suggests that she made a cross out of rushes while she sat by her father’s deathbed. As a result, when the Pagan father saw the cross, he asked to be baptised as a Christian.
Certainly, in Irish tradition, these crosses are hung on doors at the start of spring to protect a house from fire and evil.
Above all, we hope that you have enjoyed our brief look into Celtic culture and as a result may wish to learn more about this fascinating part of European history.
Finally, please leave a comment below if you have any questions regarding Celtic rings, this website or other products. In addition, you can contact Ringmania via the Contact Page.