Due to Ireland’s remote location on the western fringe of Europe, it was never colonised by Rome.
However, Ireland did maintain trade links with the Roman British and as a result some Roman influence found its way into Irish Art.
The swirly abstract designs of the Iron Age Celts became more symmetrical and even more intricate. Detailed sculptures were erected depicting various deities and stone carvings on tombs were made in the likeness of the deceased.
This was the first time that human form was represented in Irish Art.
Decorative mosaics also made their way to Ireland possibly paving the way for the famous Celtic knot.
Christianity – huge impact on Celtic art
Following the Departure of the Romans from Britain around 400 AD, the introduction of Christianity to Ireland brought with it influences from the Mediterranean and Germania.
Art was used by monasteries as a tool to promote religion in beautiful manuscripts and High Cross statues around the country.
The Celtic Knot began to appear within these highly important manuscripts – known as illuminated manuscripts – intertwined with images of animals and people and often surrounded by gold leaf.
This period in Art History was known as Insular Art, alluding to the fact that Ireland and Britain were islands separated from the rest of Europe and developing their own styles.
Christianity had a massive impact on Celtic design although only a few of the early Christian illuminated manuscripts have survived through the centuries due to repeated invasion by the Vikings. These books have been well preserved and can still be viewed today.
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