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Celtic Shield Knot – What It Really Means

The Celtic shield knot (sometimes called a looped square) is one of the most recognizable of the Celtic knots, and one of the oldest. While in the past it symbolized protection, today it’s a popular pattern used in jewelry, retail items, and artwork with connections to love and unity.

What is the Celtic Shield Knot?

Types of celtic shield knots

Four versions of the shield knot

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There are many variations to the Celtic shield knot, with modern stylized versions also available. However, the defining feature of the shield knot is its four clear corners. This symbol is usually just a looped square, but sometimes it may contain a circle in the center.

Like all Celtic knots, this knot also has no beginning or end and is formed with a single thread weaving and interlacing upon itself. There are no loose ends to the pattern, which gives it a continuous, endless appearance.

History of the Celtic Shield Knot

Celtic shield knot

While it’s difficult to say when exactly the shield knot was first used in Celtic artwork, there is evidence that the shield knot is much older than the Celtic civilization. Variations of the shield knot have been found in older civilizations, dating back thousands of years.

Here are some cultures in which the shield knot has been used.

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  • Mesopotamia – A variation of the shield knot was used in Mesopotamia as a protective symbol and when calling on the Gods of the four corners of the earth.
  • Norse culture – A similar symbol was used by the ancient Norse, with the four corners representing the solar cross (possibly the oldest religious symbol in the world).
  • Celts – The shield knot became popular in Celtic culture during the period of Insular art, where interlacing patterns, such as spirals and knots, began to flourish.
  • Christianity – The Christians took over the symbol of the shield knot and called it St. Hannes cross or St. John’s Arms.

Meaning of the Celtic Shield Knot

celtic shield knot wax seal stamp kit
The Celtic shield knot symbolizes strength and protection. See this here.

The Celtic shield knot was used as a symbol of protection, to ward off evil spirits and harm. Many soldiers would carry amulets of the charm with them when going to the battlefield. Alternatively, this symbol was placed on the battlefield to protect the soldiers from harm.

However, the shield knot can also be interpreted to represent eternal love, unity, and loyalty between friends, family, and lovers. It is an endless loop, with no end or beginning, representing everlasting love while the knot image represents an unbreakable bond. This connection with love is the more popular association today.

Celtic Shield Knot in Jewelry and Fashion

celtic shield knot necklace
The Celtic shield knot is often used in necklaces. See this here.

The Celtic shield knot is highly popular as a gift for loved ones. It’s also often seen on promise, engagement, and wedding jewelry, because of its connection to love, eternity, and unity.

Another reason for its popularity is that there are many versions of the Celtic shield knot available. It can be stylized and personalized, leaving in the main elements, while adding a touch of uniqueness to the design. It’s often used in rustic or bohemian jewelry styles, but can also be formed into high-quality jewelry depending on the materials and style used. Below is a list of the editor’s top picks featuring the Celtic shield knot.

Editor's Top Picks
HZMAN Men's Warriors Medieval Shield Celtic Knot Irish Cross Stainless Steel Pendant...
See This Here
YAFEINI Celtic Necklace for Women Viking Jewelry for Women Irish Triangle Trinity...
See This Here
Richsteel Irish Knot Celtic Talisman Pendant Necklace Celtic Jewelry
See This Here
Last update was on: May 14, 2024 11:02 am

In Brief

The Celtic shield knot continues to be popular today, just like most of the other Celtic knots and spirals. While its original symbolism of warding off evil is not as common these days, its symbolism of love and union has made it a universal image.

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Dani Rhys
Dani Rhys

Dani Rhys has worked as a writer and editor for over 15 years. She holds a Masters degree in Linguistics and Education, and has also studied Political Science, Ancient History and Literature. She has a wide range of interests ranging from ancient cultures and mythology to Harry Potter and gardening. She works as the chief editor of Symbol Sage but also takes the time to write on topics that interest her.