61+ Curious Celtic Art Facts For The Art Aspirants To Know

Jaba Sharma
Mar 17, 2023 By Jaba Sharma
Originally Published on Mar 17, 2023
Fact-checked by Spandana Kantam
Celtic art is associated with Celts from Europe.

Celtic art features beautiful geometric shapes.

Celtic arts' roots can be found in the metalwork, sculpture, and carving of prehistoric Celtic people. The development of Christianity in early Britain and Ireland, when local artistic traditions merged with Mediterranean influences introduced by Christian missionaries, is largely responsible for the creation of classical Celtic art.

History Of Celtic Art

There are many examples of Celtic sculptures and paintings that display the most recognizable characteristics of ancient Celtic art throughout its history.

  • The ancient Celtic migrations from the steppes of southern Russia began around 1,000 BCE, and by the time they reached Europe during the Iron Age, the Celts developed their first arts and crafts.
  • Hallstatt period is seen as the birthplace of Celtic culture, the La Tène period as the pinnacle of Celtic art, and the Celtic Revival as a more modern interpretation of the development of Celtic art.
  • Hallstatt culture was prosperous and was known for its prodigious mineral trading. They produced iron tools and weapons as well as bronze decorative objects using the metal art techniques of those ages.
  • Celtic art history appeared around 800 BC, at the start of the Hallstatt Period.
  • Beginning to form were geometric arrangements centered on a single point that grew in the form of rising spirals.
  • Early Celtic neck jewelry featured stone carvings and pricey metal torques that symbolized authority and social status.
  • The Celts continued to roam through Europe for the next 300 years before beginning to settle in the British Isles, Spain, and France.
  • The visual arts of Celtic Revival, which began as a deliberate attempt by Modern Celts primarily in the British Isles to express self-identification and nationalism, were not restricted in fame to Celtic nations.
  • This style is still seen in Celtic cross funerary monuments and interlace tattoos, from the 18th century to the modern era.
  • Most people agree that Insular Celtic forms are unique. Up to about 100 BC, De Navarro categorizes insular art of the British Isles as Style IV, followed by Style V.
  • The Celts continued to produce art until the fourth century BC. The style started to slowly pass by, displaying traces of radial symmetry, a style that originated around the Hallstatt period.
  • The two designs were frequently combined and could be seen on vases, torques, scabbards, and many other metal objects.
  • Red enamel was also utilized, and through time, the Celts developed into a semi-fragmented civilization capable of producing some stunning works of art.
  • The La Tène Iron Age, which started in approximately 500 BC, saw the evolution of Celtic patterns.
  • Over the following three or four hundred years, as the Celts established themselves fully in Britain, the Romans started to advance into Western Europe and impinge upon them.
  • Roman troops subsumed all the autonomous Celtic tribes on the continent into the Roman rule of Europe during the late La Tène period.
  • Celtic art had a rise in popularity up until the middle of the 19th century thanks to the support of archaeologists and painters.
  • During this time, some of Ireland's most renowned Celtic artifacts, including the Tara Brooch, were found.
  • A Celtic pseudo-penannular brooch known as the Tara Brooch is thought to have been created in the late seventh or early eighth centuries.
  • The Tara Brooch, in many ways, represents the pinnacle of what the craftsmen of the era were capable of, according to the National Museum of Ireland.
  • The Tara Brooch was displayed abroad, including in cities like London and Paris, which contributed to its reputation as one of the items behind the Celtic renaissance in the middle of the 19th century.
  • Irish Celtic art saw a renaissance as a direct result of the arrival of Christianity in Ireland.
  • This manifested itself in three ways: first, a revival of Celtic metalwork; second, the creation, in collaboration with Anglo-Saxon and German expertise, of a number of magnificently illuminated gospel manuscripts; and third, the production of exceptional free-standing sculptures, known as the High Crosses of Ireland.
  • In 1857, River Thames' bed was dredged up to retrieve the Battersea Shield. Since then, efforts were on to determine the piece's age.
  • It is among the most significant pieces of prehistoric Celtic art to have been found in Britain. The shield, which has been dated to around 350-50 BC, is kept in the British Museum.
  • Around 800 AD, the Book of Kells was composed in Latin text at a Columban monastery.
  • The Book of Kells spent many years living in Ireland at the Abbey of Kells in County Meath. Naturally, this is also the origin of the book's title. The book may have arrived in Ireland after being overrun by Vikings from its Scottish birthplace of Iona.
  • The text is especially well-known for its stunning ornamentation and illustrations. In terms of style, the book combines Christian and Insular art.
  • Early on, the arts and crafts movement in Ireland had embraced Celtic style, but by the '20s, it appeared that its appeal was waning.
  • In Celtic nations like Ireland, where it has been adapted, interlace is still a well-liked decorative style.
  • Starting in the third century BC, the Celts began to produce coins. Initial fashions were influenced by the Greeks and Romans before becoming more Celtic in style.
  • Bronze cult wagons were substantial carts with standing statues within. At the heart of the object was a shaft with a huge bowl, possibly intended to hold religious offerings.
  • There are numerous enormous, sophisticated drinking cups as well as a sizable amount of weaponry, demonstrating the warring, intoxicated temperament of the Celts.
  • In Celtic society, a person's wealth might be determined simply by looking at their feet. Only those of a higher social level would be able to afford shoes because they would have required a lot of time and effort to produce.

Patterns In Celtic Art

People have a treasure trove of ancient works created by Celtic painters thanks to the legacy of Celtic art history.

  • The first Celts brought with them their own cultural traits from the Bronze Age, as well as knowledge of the Mediterranean and Etruscan civilizations gained through trade connections enabled by Bosporus Strait, which connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara.
  • The ancient and medieval Celtic art is carefully distinguished by certain knowledgeable writers. Celtic art from the past and the present differ from one another.
  • The most amazing aspect of Celtic art, at least in Ireland, which has the largest collection of Celtic artworks, is its continuity of innovative design. Each era brought forth its own distinctive advances.
  • The Celts added new designs, replacing the predominately geometric spiral-style motifs with angular patterns, stylized animals, and interlacing on scrollwork.
  • The four points of the cross are all covered in elaborate geometric motifs and woven into the ring's circular form. Similar patterns would be carved into the work below the upper ring.
  • Celtic people are known for inhabiting a wide geographic area, and their customs have deep historical roots in numerous cultures.
  • Celtic people learned how to combine various elements to improve the mediums on which they could create their art, and they started doing it on glass and other intricate objects.
  • A number of broad metal belts with geometric and beast repousse decorations were discovered.
  • Numerous pieces of bronze and iron jewelry (ring ornaments, brooches, glass beads, and various types of amber) were also discovered, with many of the objects decorated with animals and abstract geometrical patterns.
  • The Book of Kells features all the distinctive elements of Celtic and Christian art, including stylized human forms, curvilinear patterns next to legendary creatures, and Celtic knots woven into geometric designs.
  • One of the best specimens of British La Tène or Celtic art is the bronze mirror known as the Desborough Mirror. A complex pattern was carved on the backplate, and one side of the plate was finely polished to create a reflecting surface.

Styles Of Celtic Art

Many people are aware of Celtic art. Beautiful scrollwork designs with origins in the ancient Celts' culture can be found, which are nearly free of symmetry and linear patterns.

  • An antique fascination with the artwork of ancient Celts in Britain and Ireland gave rise to the style known as Celtic Revival. It emerged in the 1840s and reached its height in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, mostly as a decorative style.
  • From eighth to ninth centuries AD, prior to the invasion of the Vikings, ornate jewelry increased in complexity and ostentation.
  • In today's society, crosses are fashioned into paintings, jewelry, tattoos, and other visual arts as well as stone monuments and ornamental jewelry.
  • The emergence of the monastic system rather than the conventional episcopal hierarchy was the greatest innovation of the Church in Ireland. This gave them more leeway in both religious and aesthetic matters.
  • With time, these monasteries became renowned centers of spiritual and temporal learning, and their scriptoriums and workshops, drawing on Celtic traditions, produced a variety of early Christian art and developed unrivaled expertise in several applied arts and crafts.
  • The method used by Celtic craftsmen to produce very intricate pieces of artwork consisting of a sequence of the cast, hammered, and spun portions assembled on (for example, bronze core) and pinned (rather than soldered) into place was novel.
  • The silver Ardagh Chalice, which is composed of more than 350 individual elements, is the ultimate example of this method.
  • More than 2,000 tombs filled with a variety of useful and ornamental objects were found at the type-site in Austria, which was thoroughly excavated by archaeologists in the 19th century.
  • A large number of weapons, including axes, javelins, spears, cutting swords, daggers, helmets, bosses, and shield plates, were found in these and other hoards from the Hallstatt period.
  • Swords were long and heavy, with crescent-shaped hilts and large pommels, or antennae, while shields were circular. Choppers featured the renowned winged Hallstatt axe.
  • The Staffordshire Moorlands Pan is ornamented in a Celtic style using curvilinear ornamentation in shades of blue, yellow, and red. It also includes a polychrome enamel inlay and a beaded rim.
  • The Staffordshire Moorlands Pan has a raised foot ring and a spherical shape. It has been hypothesized, based on studies of the inscriptions adorning the pan, that the pan served a decorative yet functional purpose.
  • Three recumbent lions lying on the rim of a large Greek vessel in the Hochdorf Chieftain's Grave are decorative elements. One of the lions has been replaced by a Celtic artist who made little effort to mimic the Greek style of the other two.
  • A cross-slab is a type of Pictish stone, a rectangular piece of rock with numerous images and geometric designs etched all over it, as well as a cross carved in relief on the slab face.
  • Bird shapes, spirals, zoomorphic animal designs, knotwork, and fretwork are among the motif types, although there aren't many plant pattern types.
  • The early style is best exemplified by gold collars and other elaborate jewelry from Rodenbach and Reinheim. It is based on historical excavations at numerous burial sites in Germany and France.
  • The Waldalgesheim Style sub-style was inspired by chariot parts and elaborate jewelry discovered at the German burial site of Waldalgesheim.
  • Images of humans and animals were used more frequently in Plastic Style. Additionally, it was far more ornate, intricate, and decorative.
  • The Sword Style, which is characterized by geometric patterns drawn from Hellenic floral themes, represents a shift away from the intricate and colorful three-dimensional style figuration of the previous period as it is more inclined toward linear abstraction.
  • The ruins of Monasterboice, an isolated holy site in County Louth, Ireland, have three standing crosses, one of which is a sandstone Christian cross known as Muiredach's High Cross.
Celtic silver amulet with the head of a wolf with a Viking ornament on the background of stones and amulets

Unique Features Of Celtic Art

La Tène is the first peak or period of flourishing in Celtic art, illustrating the success and broadening influence of Celtic culture.

  • The modern-day Celts of Ireland and Scotland treasure Celtic art, which is widely employed and frequently perceived as a mystical art form.
  • Celtic metalworkers were skilled in the use of gold filigree, multicolored studs (such as enamel, millefiori, and amber), and stamped foils.
  • The Moylough belt shrine is a wonderful example of Celtic goldwork from this era, which is also known as the Hiberno-Saxon school of Insular art.
  • Hallstatt culture, though centered in Austria, spread throughout central Europe and was divided into two regions: an eastern region that included western Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia, Austria, the Czech Republic, and Croatia; and a western region that included southern Germany, Switzerland, northern Italy, and eastern France.
  • Hallstatt culture was built on the successful trade of salt and iron implements throughout Europe, and its wealth was fully reflected in the abundance of finely crafted artifacts discovered in the graves of its wealthy nobility and chieftains, as well as jewelry, pottery, tools, and other items.
  • Central European Hallstatt art is renowned for its high-quality iron tools and weapons as well as its production of decorative objects using bronze.
  • The stone sculptures were typically ordered by neighborhood monasteries for use as religious monuments, frequently taking the place of earlier built timber constructions.
  • Scotland also exhibited Celtic influences since Northumbria, an Anglo-Saxon state in the south.
  • During this period of Christianization, interlace became a dominant element in stones and metalwork, and Pictish art in Scotland started to be significantly impacted by the Insular style.


What is Celtic art known for?
Celtic art is decorative, devoid of the classical tradition's emphasis on nature's copy and only infrequently adopts symmetry. It frequently incorporates intricate symbolism.

What is Celtic artwork?
Celtic art is divided into three movements, each of which is credited to a group of people with a distinct history, setting, and culture.

Where did Celtic art come from?
People in Ireland and parts of Britain engaged in Celtic art from the Romans' retreat from Britain in the fifth century and the emergence of Romanesque art in the 12th century.

What did the Celts do for art?
Celtic art employs a variety of styles and exhibits influences from various cultures in its knotwork, spirals, key patterns, calligraphy, zoomorphic, plant shapes, and human figures.

What was the first style of Celtic art?
The La Tène style was enormously popular as the first style of Celtic art. It spread far and wide, eventually to parts of Britain and Ireland. Archaeologists used to think the Celts spread out from Central Europe and took over Britain and Ireland, bringing their art with them.

When was Celtic art made from?
The Celts lived around the Iron Age. Iron was discovered and used at this time. So, their art mostly used these metals. When the Romans invaded Britain and established their own civilization and government, the Iron Age came to an end.

What is considered Celtic?
Celtic, often known as the Celtic nations, is a broad word used to describe the languages and cultures of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, the Isle of Man, and Brittany.

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Written by Jaba Sharma

Master of Business Administration

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Jaba SharmaMaster of Business Administration

A highly skilled content writer and editor, Jaba brings over six years of experience in the field to her role. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Science from Lucknow University and a Master's degree in Business Administration with a specialization in finance from the Institute of Environment & Management, Lucknow. Jaba's meticulous approach and creative mindset naturally led her into the world of content writing. She began her career as a Website Content Writer and Backend Admin at EventTraveler Pvt. Ltd, where she gained extensive experience in creating web pages, writing, and editing content and conducting in-depth web research. 

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Fact-checked by Spandana Kantam

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Political Science and Sociology

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Spandana KantamBachelor of Arts specializing in Political Science and Sociology

Spandana holds a Bachelor's degree in Political Science from Acharya Nagarjuna University. She has a passion for writing and enjoys reading crime and thriller novels while listening to RnB music in her free time.

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