Some tattoo designs are, and always will be, top requests in the tattoo world.
Celtic tattoos have a reputation for being among the most popular designs in the tattoo industry.
They are ideal for honoring Celtic ancestry.
Some people choose them because they are attracted to Celtic tattoo aesthetics.
These tattoos are appealing because they stand out.
Celtic warriors wore blue-colored tattoos to appear intimidating against enemies.
The ancient Celtic tattoo symbols we recognize today are similar to the tattoos worn by the warriors.
Celtic tattoos are a popular choice for people with Celtic backgrounds.
Sometimes they are chosen by someone who, passing through Celtic Nations, falls in love with the scenery.
Celtic tattoo imagery has a distinct look and feels to it.
Something is spellbinding about the intricate Celtic knot tattoos and Celtic animistic imagery.
Who Are The Celtic People?
At one point, Celtic people were the majority in Europe.
Today their traditions survive in 6 major nations: Scotland, Ireland, Brittany, Wales, the Isle of Man, and Cornwall.
6 corresponding Celtic languages fall under two categories: Goidelic and Gaelic.
Within the two branches, the languages are similar but have their own distinct qualities.
Though there aren’t many records of ancient Celtic people from the Celts, they were observed and written about by the Greeks and Romans.
This is partly because of the Druid faith, an ancient belief system.
The Druids are thought to have originated in Celtic culture.
In this religion, it was considered blasphemous to record sacred information.
Because many of the Celtic symbols we are familiar with today are from the Druid faith, we can never be 100% sure what they mean.
That said, the Celtic people have persevered for hundreds of years.
Between Celtic oral history and the records kept by Greeks and Romans, we can make some very educated guesses.
Did Celtic Warriors Have Tattoos?
It is theorized that Celtic Warriors battled bare-chested or even in the altogether.
They would wear tattoos as an intimidation tactic against their enemies.
The tattoos were made with blue ink derived from the woad plant.
These designs were likely similar to the Celtic symbols we know today.
Celtic Tattoo Symbols
The Celtic tattoos always consist of Celtic knots intertwined with other Celtic tattoo symbols.
In general, the Celtic tattoo symbols represent vitality and strength.
They might also symbolize protection.
Celtic Knots Tattoos
Of all the Celtic tattoos, knots are the most popular.
When people think of tribal tattoos, they may think of Celtic Knots.
Celtic knots tattoos can symbolize an eternal bond between two people or humans and nature.
They can also be a symbol of eternal life.
There are variations on Celtic knot tattoo designs, but they generally fall into a few categories.
The Celtic knot was a highly important symbol to the ancient Celts, but nowadays it is an important symbol to the Irish and descendants of Irish ancestors.
There are so many different designs of Celtic Knot tattoos!
Interestingly, every single one has its own meaning and significance in modern culture.
- Do you have to be Irish to wear a Celtic knot tattoo?
The answer is although they are typically representative of not only a specific meaning but also a celebration of Irish culture, no, you do not have to be Irish to have one.
If any of these tattoo meanings speak to you, you’re welcome to bring a little Celtic flair to your personal style!
But before we get started, keep in mind that it’s important to know that each and every Celtic knot is completely connected without a single break.
Now let’s check out these many Celtic knot tattoos and see what they represent today in the tattoo world.
Trinity Knot Tattoos
Another symbol that has changed its tune over time, it stood for the trinity of “maiden, mother and crone.”
This triple knot tattoo also called “three-cornered,” is one of the most popular Celtic knot tattoo designs for a reason.
In pagan belief systems these are the three sacred stages of a woman’s life.
Under the patriarchal model of Catholicism, it has come to stand for the father, son, and holy spirit.
The triquetra knot tattoo is composed of three-pointed sides with a circle connecting them along with many complicated lines that to be honest– who knows what’s happening to create this design.
Props to the tattoo artist making any Celtic tattoo because these designs are so much more complex than meet the eye.
Try to follow from one point around the composition of this tattoo and you will realize just how much goes into it: this tattoo design is special and deserves recognition.
Not only are the triquetra knot’s three corners beautiful, but they also have significant meaning along with being the Celtic symbol of strength.
This tattoo symbolizes unity because of its unbreaking line and symmetrical nature.
It also represents everlasting life, which can be taken as a symbol of your spirituality depending on your beliefs.
Not to mention, the triquetra knot tattoo means that you are protected by a higher power.
Celtic Love Knots Tattoos
Love knots are a fairly modern tattoo design.
Love knots, also known as Josephine’s knot, is a sailor’s Celtic knot which means that it used to be made from two ropes joined together to create one unified knot.
Derived from more ancient Celtic knots, they often serve as wedding tattoos or symbols of devotion between life partners.
These tattoos can be customized to suit each couple.
Though there are a few variations, for the most part, this tattoo design is a heart with a triquetra knot tattoo connected to it.
This sailor’s knot is special because its joining of two ropes has meaning as it represents two hearts connecting.
This would be something the sailor would bring back home and give to their significant other.
A Celtic lovers knot tattoo symbolizes undying love, especially a love that has made it through the years despite the challenges of being apart for a time.
This is a tattoo you would get in honor of your significant other because it means that your love for them is infinite and therefore will never die.
Celtic Lovers Knot Infinity Tattoo
This Celtic knot design is an interesting concept.
It is the same as the Celtic lovers’ knot tattoo except it also includes the infinity symbol joined intellectually into an amazing interconnected design.
The mix of pointed and round shapes makes for an aesthetic tattoo and both the hearts and the infinity symbol stand out depending on what your eyes are focused on.
The meaning of this tattoo is that you have experienced a love that is not only incredibly special to you but also is one that you view from the perspective of being infinite.
This would be a great tattoo to show the permanence (literally, on your skin) of your marriage!
Not only that, but this tattoo could represent lots of types of permanent love such as the love you have for a family member or for God.
Celtic Spiral Knots Tattoos
This is an interesting design because there are many ways to create a Celtic spiral knot tattoo.
The most common design is three spirals that are each connected in the center.
This tattoo can be in black ink or even a touch of blue!
The spirals are contained by a circle and there’s a lot of white space creating an interesting look.
As for the meaning of the Celtic spiral knot tattoo, this is a tattoo that represents the different parts of life that connect such as life, rebirth, and ending.
It also symbolizes the spirit of the mind and body and the concept of love.
It’s almost impossible to explain how much this tattoo means– it encompasses all the joys of life itself.
It even symbolizes the importance of remembering the past and looking forward to the future.
What a special tattoo!
There are many reasons that you could get this tattoo, and one could say that this is one of the most meaningful of the Celtic knot tattoos.
Spirals have been a symbol in Celtic culture since the earliest recorded carvings.
They represent a person’s journey through life and into the spirit world.
As in many belief systems, 3 is a sacred Celtic number.
The triple spiral, also known as the triskele, is thought to represent earth, water, and sky.
Some say it stands for the human world, the spirit world, and the celestial world.
It could also be a symbol of beginning/middle/end, past/present/future, or father/mother/child.
Celtic Eternity Knot Tattoo
A Celtic eternity knot tattoo is a design that looks so complicated that it’s hard to believe all those lines are interconnected!
Also, it is important to note that its design can come in many variations– it’s almost as if no two Celtic eternity knot tattoos look the same.
They all share an infinity symbol, representing eternity.
As we mentioned, each Celtic knot is interconnected through a line that loops and ends up back where it started.
This Celtic knot tattoo is especially related to this concept because its meaning (much like the meaning of an infinity symbol) is that everything in life is connected and will repeat for eternity.
Life has no beginning; neither does it have an ending.
This is quite a spiritual concept which not everyone may agree with.
If this idea of eternity in nature and in the universe itself speaks to you, then this is a great tattoo for you to be reminded of your beliefs.
Celtic Motherhood Knot Tattoo
This tattoo essentially looks like many hearts joined together in a downward cascading fashion.
Connecting the hearts, in the center, are two semicircles joined to create an unusual shape that is not rare for a Celtic symbol but is definitely unique in itself.
The empty spaces created by the hearts can be decorated such as with dots near the top or by adding initials.
The meaning of this Celtic tattoo design is pretty simple but has some rules to it.
First of all, the amount of dots placed in the design refers to the number of children you have.
This is not a necessary part of the tattoo, however, it is an option to add these dots to emphasize your number of children.
Also, this is a tattoo for a mother to honor the bond between her and her children combined with her and their faith.
Importantly, this tattoo also symbolizes the family’s heritage in a big way.
Celtic Four-Cornered Knot Tattoo
This tattoo design is very intricate and can be simplified or made to be extremely complicated.
The most important part of the design which signifies that it is in fact a four-cornered or quaternary tattoo is that there are four significant sections to the tattoo.
This tattoo is a definite way of displaying Celtic heritage: the design screams pride in being Celtic!
There are a few different meanings to this tattoo design.
One more obvious one is the four directions: North, South, East, and West.
This can mean that you are an avid traveler, or that you have had trouble finding direction in life and want to find the right path.
On the other hand, this tattoo can symbolize the four elements: Earth, wind, fire, and water.
This symbolism can represent that you are at peace with all elements of nature and therefore you feel that you are an old and wise soul.
Celtic Five-Fold Knot Tattoo
Not exclusively Celtic, this symbol encompasses four circles with a fifth circle joining them in the knot.
This design can also have four circles, which when intertwined create a quaternary symbol in the center representing the fifth element of the tattoo.
It all depends on how the circles are placed and what shapes they create in their lines and within the empty spaces.
The meaning of this tattoo is similar to the four-corned knot tattoo in that it symbolizes the four elements, the four directions, and even the four seasons.
However, the fifth ‘element’ of this tattoo is the powerful connection between these four elements of nature.
This tattoo is for someone who values the connectivity of nature (especially since Celtic knots are all about connectivity) and is highly spiritual.
This tattoo makes you think– again, this design is for a wise soul.
Celtic Dara Knot Tattoo
The Dara knot tattoo is one of the most elaborate Celtic knot tattoos and also one of the most different.
This design actually opens up and has lines that aren’t connected, which is unusual for a Celtic knot tattoo.
This tattoo looks like a tree because Dara is an old Irish word for ‘oak tree.’
So, we know it symbolizes an oak tree, but what exactly does that mean?
The Dara knot has a powerful meaning of having strength under enormous amounts of pressure and still being able to persevere.
This tattoo can also represent wisdom in all things, just as how trees are known to be wise and see many things around them.
It symbolizes that you have the ability to transform knowledge and life experience into wisdom about all aspects of life.
Also, this design can mean that you have the leadership skills to do well in life and that you cherish being able to lead others and guide them.
Celtic Sailor’s Knot Tattoo
A Celtic sailors knot is a two-strand knot that represents duality.
There are many ways of showing a sailor’s knot in a tattoo, and a sailor’s knot is a whole genre of Celtic knots in itself.
A sailor’s knot was traditionally made by sailors as a way of remembering those they left behind to go to sea.
The meaning of a Celtic sailor’s knot tattoo is wrapped in the meaning of why the knot was made itself.
Therefore, it represents friendship, eternal love, romance, and unity.
This tattoo can represent the actual union of marriage, literally meaning that two souls are attached and become one permanent bond just as how the knot itself is one continuous line.
This is a common knot tattoo to receive when getting married, or even as a symbol of eternal friendship with someone special.
Celtic Mandala Knot Tattoo
This tattoo design is a circle which contains many knots which can vary a lot in shape and design.
The most simplistic design is a ring of twisted knots surrounding a symmetrical center of similar-looking twisted knots.
Other designs include various swirling designs within the same spherical shape, keeping a common symmetry.
The Celtic mandala knot tattoo means that you have found peace, or wish to be more grounded.
This is a tattoo for someone who believes in a soul and knows that their soul is traveling through the universe in order to learn and to grow.
It also means that you understand your deep connection to your ancestors and your origin within the universe.
We are all interconnected with our ancestors and however you believe that connection exists, it is important to someone who gets a mandala knot tattoo.
Celtic Shield Tattoo
A Celtic shield knot tattoo design is a circle with the main design within it.
This design inside is an intertwined symmetrical four-cornered knot.
This knot design is interesting because it encompasses many of the traditional knot styles all in one!
Plus, it looks like a shield. It looks powerful and even regal.
This symbol was used by soldiers as a good luck charm to be safe and even was used to help people who were weak, viewed as almost a magical amulet.
The meaning of the Celtic shield knot tattoo is protection from evil spirits.
This shield knot is meant to protect you just as a shield protects someone during battle.
Someone would wear this tattoo for the purpose of always knowing someone out there is looking over you, whether it be God, people who love you, any higher power, or even the universe working in your favor.
This tattoo is great for someone who needs help in life and guidance towards a better life!
Celtic Solomon Knot Tattoo
A Solomon knot tattoo is essentially two ovals joined together in a knot that formed four distinct sections.
This Celtic knot is one of the more simplistic of the knots because it can be more easily sketched out, unlike the complicated mandala knot, for example.
However, it can be made to be more complex by adding multiple ovals connected to each other or by creating space in between the spots where that would overlap.
This Celtic knot design goes way back all the way to cave drawings of the stone age.
Therefore, its symbolism certainly involves the heritage of the Celtics and can be received in remembrance of the great ancient civilization.
Its name comes from King Solomon who was known for his great wisdom.
However, this knot tends to represent the connection between us humans and the divine, or in other words, our deep personal connection to our spirituality.
Celtic Cross Tattoos
One of the most important Celtic tattoo symbols is the Celtic cross tattoo.
It’s also one of the most popular, for a reason.
This tattoo is a cross that is filled in with many intricate knots.
Many choose to get a Celtic cross tattoo as a way of showing their Irish heritage or faith.
This image was originally drawn by Celtics with more mystical, pagan beliefs.
The circle behind the cross represents the sun god but has since been adopted by Catholics as a symbol of god’s love.
These knots vary, and sometimes there is a lot of empty space in between them and the edges of the cross.
However, the cross tattoo is typically filled in with grey or white, and sometimes the knots and even filled in themselves with red or blue.
The meaning of this tattoo is pride in your Irish heritage.
It also signifies that you are highly religious and want to show off to the world your belief in Christianity.
It represents the eternal love of God and that he is protecting you wherever you go.
This is a very common tattoo for someone who is an Irish Christian.
Not only is this tattoo meaningful, but it is also beautiful, and one of the most common Celtic tattoos.
Without a doubt, there are a lot of ways to design a cross tattoo– and this includes a Celtic-themed tattoo.
There are essentially two areas to work with: the inside of the cross and the background are the main thoughts when it comes to designing this kind of tattoo.
Many choose to receive an embellished Celtic cross tattoo, or essentially a tattoo where the cross is inlaid with some sort of ornate details such as a pattern with important Irish or Christian symbolism.
This kind of tattoo is great for someone who has been reborn with Christ or wants to truly dedicate themselves to Christianity through a tattoo.
In a spiritual way, this design can symbolize the total circle of life itself and its movement around the universe.
Many Celtic cross tattoos have shamrocks as the center of the circle part of the tattoo joining the cross together.
Some designs even place shamrock tattoos on the ends of the cross for decoration.
This tattoo design means that you want to show off your heritage in a big way and celebrate your ancestors.
It represents comradery for your fellow Irish friends and family members and loyalty towards them.
Another great design of the Celtic cross tattoo is a tribal one that is completely in black ink.
This type of tattoo is simple in design, often with thick black lines holding basic Celtic knots.
This tattoo can symbolize the ancient Celts themselves rather than how we think of Celtics in modern-day culture.
In other words, this design magnifies the tattoo’s ancient meanings of infinity and loyalty throughout all.
The simplicity of this type of tattoo also allows for a Christian view that the design means everlasting peace through God and faith forever in him.
The conclusion is that, for the most part, we’ll leave this tattoo to the Irish and to the Christians– and especially to those who are both.
Sure, there are those who strongly want a Celtic tattoo for the purpose of celebrating the ancient civilizations who created the Celtic cross, or those who receive one to celebrate one’s spirituality.
However, for the most part, this is a tattoo for someone with great Irish heritage or for anyone Christian who wants to display their faith and show their commitment to their religion with a tattoo.
Celtic Animism Tattoos
Not all Celtic tattoos are symbols.
Celtic animals are also a popular tattoo design choice.
The original Celtic Druids were animistic.
This means they held the belief that everything has a soul.
This includes plants, animals, rocks, and other inanimate objects.
Plants and animals are popular symbols in Celtic tattoos.
They each have their own significance.
Celtic Bear Tattoos
Bear tattoos can symbolize bravery in battle, but they also have strong feminine connotations.
The Celtic goddess Artio is regularly depicted as a bear.
She symbolizes strength and protection because of the way a mother bear guards her young.
Celtic bear tattoos also symbolize new life.
Mother bears are the first animals spotted after hibernation.
Celtic Wolf Tattoos
A fierce choice for a Celtic animal tattoo is the Celtic wolf.
Wolves hold a deep connection to the Celtic community.
Ancient Celtic culture considered wolves to be relentless protectors.
Celtic wolf tattoos are striking because they are unique.
This tattoo is significant because it has a lot of meaning.
The Celtic wolf tattoo can also represent one’s Celtic heritage.
To some people, Celtic wolf tattoos are a way to symbolize their beliefs.
For others, the wolf is a guardian.
In Celtic traditions, wolves connect the people with their ancestors and spiritual guides.
They help bridge the spiritual and mortal realms.
Some people choose this tattoo design because it pays homage to the ancient Celtic religion.
Celtic wolf tattoos serve as fierce protection.
The animal possesses strength, vigor, and confidence.
In the wild, wolves stay together and protect their pack.
People can choose the Celtic wolf to represent that trait in themselves.
It can show that a person stays with and guards their family.
Celtic wolf tattoos may only portray the head, or they can include the entire body.
Some tattoo designs show the wolf on the prowl.
As is common in most Celtic tattoos, artists often tattoo the wolf without color.
The use of black as the only shade makes the Celtic wolf tattoo exceptionally bold.
A Celtic wolf stands out compared to other wolf tattoos.
Celtic Salmon Tattoos
Because of their intelligence and built-in tracking systems, Salmon are sacred animals in the Celtic tradition.
To eat Salmon is said to give you wisdom.
A Celtic salmon tattoo would suit someone who is pursuing academic or intellectual glory.
Celtic Owl Tattoos
Because they are nocturnal, owls are seen as a symbol of mystery and mysticism.
A Celtic owl tattoo would be appropriate for someone who embraces the more pagan traditions of the culture.
Celtic Tree of Life Tattoos
The tree of life exists in a few faith traditions.
While the branches reach for the sky, the roots dig into the ground.
This is a humble way to walk through life: staying grounded but striving for greatness.
The Celtic tree tattoo is suitable for anyone who wants to live in balance, or who values the mind/body connection.
Celtic Harp Tattoos
The Celtic harp is the national emblem of Ireland for a reason— it is a musical instrument that honors Celtic traditions.
It is a very popular tattoo in that it represents peoples’ heritage with a bit of luck of the Irish.
In other words, a Celtic harp tattoo is primarily a symbol of Celtic tradition and Irish pride.
This type of Celtic tattoo is not only popular on the skin.
The Claddagh symbol is known to be made into rings, necklaces, and nick-nacks galore.
That’s probably because it’s the ultimate symbol of Celtic love and loyalty, with two hands holding a heart together.
The Claddagh tattoo is often received in honor of someone else who they love or cherish.
Brigid Cross Tattoos
Not only does this tattoo symbolize Ireland in general, but the design of woven rushes can also be transformed into many different types of Celtic knots, changing its meaning.
This meaning itself is mainly concerned with keeping away evil, so a Brigid Cross tattoo has the potential to lead you on the right track.
Celtic Tattoo Ideas
There isn’t just one way to wear a Celtic tattoo— their size and placement take some time to commit to.
While you are deciding, here are some detailed options of how exactly to place the tattoo design you have picked out.
Small Celtic Tattoos
If you don’t want to make a big statement, but still want to show off your Celtic pride, a small Celtic tattoo may be for you.
This especially works for Celtic knot tattoos, which can be a small addition to your style and identity.
Just because your tattoo is small, though, doesn’t mean it can’t be complicated enough to have the full tattoo design you’re dreaming of (it’s all in the details!).
Simple Celtic Tattoos
Now, these simpler tattoo pieces are almost always of Celtic knots because they can be made with simple black line work.
Simple Celtic tattoos have a very modern look and add a lot of style to the body while still having a significant meaning.
Celtic Tattoo Sleeves
If you’re really into the Celtic culture, Irish pride, and loyalty, then for you a Celtic tattoo sleeve makes sense.
Not to mention, it can look quite cool and specifically for men can show that you are a strong person who perseveres through anything.
For women it can be just the same, however, for her, there’s an added meaning of love of life and family.
Where do you get a Celtic tattoo?
There are so many options, because, a Celtic tattoo is highly versatile in both design and style.
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular body placements for Celtic tattoos.
Celtic Tattoos on Shoulder
A Celtic shoulder tattoo is bold and powerful, showing the meaning of the chosen tattoo for all to see.
You should choose to put your Celtic tattoo on your shoulder if you are highly proud of what it stands for.
Celtic Tattoos on Chest
A man with a Celtic tattoo on his chest represents the warriors of their ancestors.
This tattoo placement is shown here as a masculine tattoo with a meaning that you are proud of your heritage and are a strong person.
There are so many beautiful knots and ancient stories from the Celtic tradition.
If you have a Celtic background, they are such a meaningful way to celebrate your culture.
There are so many important meanings that go along with a Celtic tattoo.
It is easy to pick one that relates to you because of this.
From celebrating friendship to being proud of your children, there are many ways that a Celtic tattoo can become an official symbol of the bond you have with others, of your spirituality, or, most importantly, your relationship with your heritage.
Most people who receive a Celtic tattoo do have an important pride for their Irish heritage.
It is also important to remember that almost every knot is itself a continuous line that represents the eternity of whatever concept it symbolizes.
A Celtic tattoo is a great tattoo to have and is packed with important personal meanings that will last a lifetime.
Celtic Tattoo FAQ
The Celtic tattoos always consist of Celtic knots intertwined with other Celtic symbols.
In general, Celtic tattoos represent vitality and strength. They might also symbolize protection and Celtic heritage.
Celtic knots tattoos can symbolize an eternal bond between two people or humans and nature. They can also be a symbol of eternal life. The Celtic knot was a highly important symbol to the ancient Celts, but nowadays it is an important symbol to the Irish and descendants of Irish ancestors. It is also important to remember that almost every knot is itself a continuous line that represents the eternity of whatever concept it symbolizes.
The answer is although they are typically representative of not only a specific meaning but also a celebration of Irish culture, no, you do not have to be Irish to have one.
It is theorized that Celtic Warriors battled bare-chested or even in the altogether. They would wear tattoos as an intimidation tactic against their enemies. The tattoos were made with blue ink derived from the woad plant.
Triquetra tattoo symbolizes unity because of its unbreaking line and symmetrical nature. It also represents everlasting life, which can be taken as a symbol of your spirituality depending on your beliefs.
The triple spiral, also known as the triskele, is thought to represent earth, water, and sky. Some say it stands for the human world, the spirit world, and the celestial world. It could also be a symbol of beginning/middle/end, past/present/future, or father/mother/child.
The meaning of this tattoo is pride in your Irish heritage. It also signifies that you are highly religious and want to show off to the world your belief in Christianity.
Celtic wolf tattoos serve as fierce protection. In Celtic traditions, wolves connect the people with their ancestors and spiritual guides. Some choose this tattoo design because it pays homage to the ancient Celtic religion.
From our research, some of the most common Celtic tattoos are Celtic cross, Yggrasil, Triquetra, Triskele, and Celtic motherhood knot.