70 Traditional Celtic Cross Tattoo Designs – A Visual Representation of Faith and Heritage

The Celtic cross itself is a symbol that has both religious and secular origin. It has its origin from the Celts and there have been little about their history particularly because they are not known for documenting their historical activities. Thus, there is little information about the Celts prior to their exposure to civilizations from ancient Greece and the Roman Empire.



The Celts have a very rich cultural history that dates back to thousands of years. At some point in time, the entirety of Europe was Celtic and they ruled England until they were pushed out by the Romans, Angles, and Saxons to the North and West. The ancient Celtic art was full of interlacing patterns; elaborate knotwork and colors which were displayed in metal pieces of jewelry, weapons, figurines, and pots. The great majority of the designs used in Celtic tattoos come from illuminated manuscripts as well as ancient art from Ireland, Scotland and England which were originally under the Celts.

Generally, for people with Celtic heritage, getting a tattoo is seen as a way of expressing pride in their heritage. Following its combined pagan and Christian heritage, the circle was seen by the druids as the eternal, unchanging way of unity, the crossroads was seen as the path on earth that every individual will have to walk. The cross also symbolizes four important festivals (Beltaine, Lugnasadh, Samhain and Imbole) for every Celt.

However, in the present day, a Celtic cross is assumed to symbolize Christianity. This is not always the case as the ability to add your own personal touch and integrate other symbols and elements means that the cross can come to symbolize many different meanings and ideas.

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Meaning and Designs

The Celtic cross has for centuries provided people with a comfort and connection to their history and past. As a tattoo image, the Celtic cross is very popular as a way to give a visual representation of faith and heritage. There are numerous designs in Celtic cross tattoos many of which are rich with myth and legend due to its dual origin. Each tattoo is unique and different with each person that wears it, but because of the culture that leads the techniques of it, the meanings are usually the same. Some of its major designs include:

Christian/Catholic cross is often simple in design and just as the name implies, it simply connotes Catholicism which is of Christianity.

Celtic/Irish cross is a marker of Celtic heritage and Christian faith as well. It contains knot work, intricate loops and often done in green, gold or black. The knot symbolizes the link between the physical and the spiritual while the loop represents both the cyclical and eternal nature of life.

A tribal cross is a twist on the traditional cross tattoo design that incorporates the black interlocking patterns common to other tribal tattoos. It indicates strength, dedication, and courage.

Iron cross has German history. It symbolizes bravery. It has four equal sides and is usually done in black or gray ink.

Gothic cross focuses on the darker connotations of the cross and it represents the dark nature of the Goth culture and literature of the Gothic movement.

Wooden cross clearly depicts Christianity and nothing else. According to Christian tradition, it shows Jesus Christ crucified on a wooden cross. It depicts faith for Christian fanatics.

Maltese cross dates back to the crusaders and symbolizes sacrifice and courage thus it is commonly used by firefighters, police officers and members of the armed forces. It is usually done in black and instead of a straight t’ shape; each end has two points which make a  v’ shape.

3D cross tattoo gives you that real artistic feeling that it is more than just an ink tattoo thus making it look like a separate object that you can almost grasp with your hands.

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One thing is to have the idea of a perfect design to choose from the numerous designs available from the Celtic cross tattoo collections but more importantly is the placement as well. The size of the tat, the shape it takes and whether or not its visible are all effected by the tattoo placement. Thus placement is no doubt as important as the  design itself. They are usually worn by men on the shoulders, back, and forearm. For the female counterpart, the design is usually smaller and it is usually placed on the foot, ankle, hand, and lower back.

The back of the shoulder is perfect for large intricate designs but then such designs are difficult to show off. The arms and legs are the perfect places to get tattoos that you may want to show off or cover it up at will. Ankles and wrists can be delicate and feminine as have been reported by people getting the tattoos in these areas thus it is more suitable for females.

Neck and face are for those who obviously want to show off their tattoos. The list of possible placements for Celtic cross tattoos is endless but is very important to choose the appropriate tattoo for the appropriate position and that way you will love your tattoo.

Tattoos depict creativity as it takes a creative mind to design a tattoo that is beautiful to behold. Celtic cross tattoos are extremely popular and beautiful tattoos that gives the wide range of options for people to choose from depending on where they want to place it. It depicts deep and personal meanings, historical and cultural significance. This coupled with its suitability for both men and women makes it the perfect tattoo for almost anyone.

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