Triquetra – the Trinity Knot

Also known as The Trinity Knot. Triquetra copyright Ireland Calling

Like all Celtic knots the triquetra is constructed of one continuous line interweaving around itself symbolising no beginning or end, an eternal spiritual life.

The Celts favoured the idea that everything important in the world came in threes; three stages of life, three elements, three domains; earth, sea and sky, past, present and future. The triquetra is sometimes drawn weaving around a circle, symbolising the unity of the three parts.

Christians adopted the knot

The Christians adopted this knot because it fitted in so well with their belief system. To them it came to represent The Son, Father and Holy Spirit.

Runestone from Uppsala, Sweden
Runestone from Uppsala, Sweden

It also closely resembles three interlocking fish, the fish being an ancient Christian symbol which predates the crucifix by hundreds of years.

Variations of this symbol have been found around the globe. Pictures of interlocking fish can be found on Egyptian and Roman artefacts, and Scandinavian runestones have been found displaying the three-cornered geometric shape.

Celtic knots in Christian artwork

Although it is thought that this symbol was around before Christianity, The triquetra and similar Celtic knots were prevalent in Christian art work all over Britain and Ireland.

Intricate Celtic knots can be found on stone monuments and throughout the beautiful illuminated manuscripts created by the Celtic monks.

They are used purely as decoration and any meanings surrounding them have most likely been made up over the years.

Trinity knot on the Book of Kells
Trinity knot on the Book of Kells

Today the triquetra is a popular symbol in jewellery and tattoo design. Neopagans have adopted it as a symbol of the goddess and the three stages of womanhood: maiden, mother, crone. The symbol is also used in the Hit TV show Charmed where it represents the power of three.

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The wonderfully ornate illustrations and calligraphy in the Book of Kells has inspired artists for centuries and is still highly influential today.

It’s now possible to have your name written in the style of the Book of Kells with ornate initial letters and calligraphy that are direct replicas of work created by the monks more than a thousand years ago.

These examples also have the names written out in the ancient ogham script, using vertical and horizontal lines.

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