The Celtic Cross and Its Significance in Celtic Culture

Throughout the world, the Celtic Cross carries a significance associated with Irish Heritage. If you travel around the gorgeous Irish countryside, you are bound to find the Celtic Cross adorning several places. There are Celtic Crosses located all over the world too. The design is an essential part of jewelry and different art forms apart from being erected as stone structures in Ireland.

The Features of The Gorgeous Art Forms

The oldest stone structures with the Celtic Cross in Ireland is from the 8th century. The crosses have a distinctive feature that makes it easily identifiable when spotted anywhere and across any medium — the intricate work that the crosses have usually depict knots, biblical stories, and inscriptions on them. The features are beautiful and add artistic value to the Irish setting they are found it.

  • Height – The height of the crosses can vary in size significantly. They are as high as 8 feet or even go up to a whopping 23 feet.
  • Base – Not all the crosses have a base. If a base is present, they usually are a pyramid in shape and might have some intricate carvings on them, depending on the height of the cross.
  • Shaft – The shaft is split on the sides into panels. The panels are carved with beautiful designs and artwork.
  • Cap – The top of the cross on the upper arm, a cap is usually present. This feature is not a mandatory feature of the Celtic cross like the art carvings.
  • Head – The head of the cross is divided into a center with arms branching from the epicenter. One of the notable Celtic Crosses has a ring shape around the center of the head.

The Symbolism of The Celtic Stone Crosses

The most crucial and significant part of the Celtic Cross is the head. When you look at the structural component of the cross, the ring around the head is essential in providing support to the cross and strengthening it. Researchers believe that the stone structures with the ring are an offshoot of the earlier crosses that were made out of wood, where the support from the ring was essential.

Some Celts believe that the ring is a halo or a celestial sphere. Some also think that the ring and the rivets on the cross carry the significance of the Celtic Shield. The theory seems to stick as the influence of Christianity on the Celts is seen. While the speculation about the celestial spheres is valid, some others suggest that the shape has to do with mirrored trees and not the Christian significance.

The Purpose of The Celtic Cross

The actual purpose of the Celtic Cross in Celtic culture is not known. All that is clear is that the Celts erected these large structures as monuments and part of their rich culture. However, a vital fact to note is that most of the highest crosses are found on the top of monasteries. Theories suggest that they were probably used to define the boundary of a place or an essential part of scripture and monastery life. When the crosses are carved with elaborate carvings, they could also signify wealth and authority.