Celtic Cross - Fact and Fiction

Few Tattoo designs are as popular as the Celtic Cross.

It originated in the British Isles. The earliest form appeared mostly in Ireland in around the ninth century. It usually took on the form of a cross carved into a slab of stone, very appropriately called a recumbent cross-slab. These slabs usually lied flat.

This Cross Carved stone later made their way into an upright position (now called erect cross-slabs), and was given a slightly rounded top. As with the cross-slab, the erect cross-slabs were decorated with key patterns, interlaced knotwork, and spirals.

As people became more adventursome and they wanted to express their creativity in more tangible ways, so the Celtic Cross evolved. Extra rock was carved away from the head of the slab, leaving the rock with the outlined shape of a tall cross. This cross was usually situated on a wider base to make sure that it would stand secure. These crosses were called erect free-standing crosses.

Later the arms of the cross were extended beyond the ring of the cross, and the inner quadrants between the rings and the arms were cut away from the rest of the cross design.These crosses were eloborately decorated and often consisted of more than one piece of stone. (Can you imagine the weight of thoses things!)

The different pieces of stone were held together with mortise and tenon joints carved into the stone.

According to an Irish legend, St. Patrick created the first Celtic cross by drawing a circle over a Latin cross to incorporate the symbol of the pagan moon goddess.

For Irish Catholics, the circle in the Celtic cross symbolises eternity and the endlessness of God's love.

Both the celtic cross and the Irish cross were widely used by many ancient peoples centuries before Christianity arrived.

The four arms of the cross denotes the four elements, the four seasons, the four directions of the compass, and the four parts of man - Body, Mind, Spirit and heart.

There are many different explanations for the addition of the ring around the cross. Some people say that it is a token to sun worshipping, other people attached other spiritual symbolism to it, while yet another school of thought say that it is only there to create an aesthetically pleasing design! Who Knows?

Here are a few Celtic Cross designs that you can download for free. Right click on the image and "Save Picture As". You can modify it as you please to make your own unique design.

For more Celtic Designs, please check out our Celtic Design Gallery.

If a Celtic Cross is not exactly what you are looking for, go back to the Celtic Designs page and select another option.

Maybe you would like to look a some celtic knot designs, before making your choice.

Or maybe you are not quite so into the Celtic Design stuff, and just visited here out of curiosity, no problem. Find another selection closer to your own interests on our home page.

If you really cannot find what you are looking for on my site, search Google for more options.