While you can be forgiven for believing Roman and Greek sources which suggest that the Celts were a savage and primitive tribe, the reality is very different. Numerous archaeological excavations have gathered enough evidence to suggest that the Celts were actually a neat and tidy people.
The Celts are even accredited with the invention of soap! They admired sleek bodies, found obesity repellent and were extremely found of jewelry and generally looking good. Not much has changed in 2,000 years!
Jewelry was seen as a way to showcase status and Celtic symbols had a very specific and significant meaning. We outline these meanings below so next time you find Celtic jewelry adorned with symbols; you’ll know what you’re buying.
This is one of the most famous Celtic symbols and is primarily associated with Irish Celts. The Celtic Cross is known to be the bridge between heaven and earth while many scholars believe that the four arms of the cross are representative of the four elements: Wind, fire, earth and water.
In the center of each cross is a ring which is the symbol of infinite love in the Celtic tradition.
You will probably have noticed an increase in the number of Celtic spiral tattoos in contemporary society as well as on jewelry but how many people know the significance of what they are wearing (both in terms of precious metal and ink)?
Spirals are actually one of the oldest forms of artistic vocabulary in human society and have been found on Stone Age monuments at Newgrange which means spirals have been used for at least 4,500 years.
Many experts in the field of Celtic symbolism believe that they are metaphors for cosmic symbolism as they resemble the shape of whirlpools and galaxies.
The direction of the spirals is also significant with clockwise spirals believed to represent good luck while anti-clockwise spirals are associated with magic spells.
You may also find spiral arrangements where an equal amount of spirals are going clockwise and anti-clockwise which is a representation of balance.
A golden torc is said to have been a popular jewelry choice for members of the Celtic nobility. Even Queen Boudicca is believed to have ridden into battle wearing a torc around her neck. It is believed that the Celtic torc was a symbol of nobility, status and strength.
Additionally, torcs can also be associated with emotion, creation and metamorphosis due to their crescent shape which is similar to that of the moon. It has also been suggested that the torc is associated with gods and goddesses. For example, the Celtic god Cernunnos is often depicted with a torc around his antlers and another around his neck.
As there is no written record of Celtic symbols, their meanings can really be left open to interpretation and the above meanings are taken from the best guesses of scholars.
However, given the fact that Celts held religion and nature in such high regard, we can assume that these symbols had a deep spiritual meaning.