Scottish and Celtic Symbols (2023)

Scottish and Celtic cultures have had many different symbols and icons throughout history. Though written history books are few, historians have pieced together the meanings of Celtic symbols from surviving mythology and many artifacts left behind.

Celtic iconography such as the Celtic cross, Claddagh and Celtic knots represent various elements of Celtic culture such as symbols of the spirit, emblems of deities or images from mythological stories. Scottish and Celtic tribal symbols have been passed down through the generations and have become part of the fabric of the country.

In this article, we explain the stories behind some of the most iconic symbols of Scottish and Celtic culture. We also showcase our top fashion picks that feature these deeply meaningful designs.

traditional scottish symbols

There is a wide variety of Scottish symbols, each with a great and rich history. From Scotland's national flower to the lush lion and saltire, these bold and intricate icons grab attention and draw you into the folklore of the Scottish Highlands. Even this national animal of Scotland will amaze you with its mystique!

O Saltire

Scottish and Celtic Symbols (1)

First we have the saltire. As a symbol of Scotland, nothing is as automatically recognizable as the Scottish flag. As soon as the saltire appears in film, on television or in real life, Scotland immediately comes to mind.

The Saltire represents the patron saint of Scotland, St Andrew. It is one of the oldest symbols of Scottish heritage and represents the crucifixion of the saint in the 1st century.

There is a great deal of mythology surrounding his first appearance. Many believe that he magically appeared in the form of clouds in the blue sky during a battle between Scottish forces and the approaching Angles.

The King of Scots, King Oengus II, interpreted this as a sign from heaven, as he had prayed to St Andrew the night before. He declared St Andrew the patron saint of Scotland and the flag has been our national flag ever since.

the wild lion

Scottish and Celtic Symbols (2)

As Scottish symbols, few are as famous or iconic as the Rampant Lion. The Rampant Lion Emblem is considered to be the unofficial flag of Scotland and is often referred to as "The Royal Standard of Scotland".

The iconic design was first used by King Alexander II (1214 – 1249 AD) and has since been used as the "arms of the kingdom (or dominion) of Scotland".

Scotland's national flower

Scottish and Celtic Symbols (3)

(Video) Stories of Scottish, Irish and Welsh Symbols

Another traditional Scottish symbol is the national flower: the thistle.

As always, the history of thistle adoption is shrouded in myth. The legend goes back to the reign of Alexander III. (1249-1286) back. The Scots were attacked by the Vikings, who landed on the coast of Largs under the cover of darkness. To maintain the element of surprise, the Norsemen took off their shoes and marched across the fields to the Scottish camp.

They didn't know the field was covered in thistles! Of course one of the Norse men screamed as he stepped on the flower and the sleeping Scots were alarmed and won the day!

While there is no clear evidence that this story is true, the thistle has been an important Scottish symbol for over 500 years.

Scotland's national animal

Scottish and Celtic Symbols (4)

Why is there a mythical creature on the Scottish coat of arms?

The answer to this question is in heraldry. Heraldry is the age-old practice of designing coats of arms and coats of arms to represent different clans, armies, families, institutions and nations. If we look back at the history of Scottish heraldry, we can see that the unicorn was first used on our coat of arms in the mid-15th century.

This was a direct response to England including the lion in their heraldry 100 years earlier. According to folklore, the unicorn was considered the natural enemy of the lion!

celtic symbols

Celtic symbols are prevalent in countries such as Scotland, Ireland and Wales. These Celtic runes have a deep meaning and symbolize faith, love and loyalty, among other important values.

Let's discover the most popular Celtic symbols and the meaning behind them.

3 times

Scottish and Celtic Symbols (5)

The triquetra means "triangular", and there are many variations of this triangular design. Also known as the Trinity Knot, it means the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The Trinity node consists of three overlapping Vesica Fish symbols. In ancient times, this symbol was rarely used on its own, but rather as a substitute in larger designs. More recently, the Trinity knot has been used in jewelry, home decor, and tattoos.

(Video) Celtic Symbols - Celtic Meanings - Slideshow of Celtic Symbols

celtic cross

Scottish and Celtic Symbols (6)

The Celtic cross, a variation of the Latin cross, dates back to the 9th century. It was the Celts who added the circle design to the Latin cross to create the Celtic cross. From the beginning of the 19th century it became known as the Celtic Cross.

A well-known myth holds that the Celtic cross was brought to Ireland by St Patrick or Sanit Declan in his quest to convert pagan Ireland to Christianity. The Celtic cross, with its interlocking design, is found in many Celtic manuscripts and tombs.

or Celta

Scottish and Celtic Symbols (7)

The Celtic knot was mainly used by the ancient Celts in the construction of monuments and in manuscripts such as the Book of Kells and the Lindisfarne Gospel (dating from the 8th century).

There are many different types of Celtic knots and the meaning of the Celtic knot is open to different theories from different historians. Some believe that the Celtic knot did not have any specific philosophical or religious meaning and was only used as a decorative element.

celtic shield

Scottish and Celtic Symbols (8)

A variation of the Celtic knot, the Celtic shield knot, as the name suggests, meant protection for the wearer. It was used by ancient Celts on battlefields, painted or carved on their shields,

The Celtic shield was also painted near the sick to ward off evil spirits!

Solomon's Knot

Scottish and Celtic Symbols (9)

One of the oldest Celtic and Scottish symbols, Solomon's Knot has even been found in Stone Age carvings!

It is called Solomon's knot because it is common on many ancient monuments and synagogues associated with King Solomon.

(Video) Most Powerful Celtic Symbols And Their Hidden Meanings

Many historians believe it represents man's ties to God. The design, like many other Celtic knot designs, has no beginning or end, signifying eternity, immortality and the idea that the spirit lives on after death.

The Spiral Knot or Triskelion

Scottish and Celtic Symbols (10)

The spiral knot, also known as a triskelion, derives from the ancient Greek word for three legs. It is one of the most used Celtic symbols and is said to represent many different things.

Triskelion is a Celtic symbol composed of three connected spirals with rotational symmetry.

  • life, birth and death
  • present, future and past
  • The Holy Trinity - The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit
  • sea, land and sky

the green man

Scottish and Celtic Symbols (11)

The Green Man symbol is found in many different cultures. The Green Man symbol is used on many building projects in the British Isles as it symbolizes the relationship between man and nature.

The Green Man is also used as a symbol of rebirth. It represents the abundance of nature, the splendor of spring colors and the exuberance of vegetation.

From Claddagh

Scottish and Celtic Symbols (12)

The word Claddagh derives from the Old Irish word 'cladach', meaning 'flat rocky bank'. It is named after a fishing village on the west coast of Ireland, which is believed to be where the Claddagh ring came from. Claddagh rings are based on ancient Roman designs.

Claddagh consists of different elements. The heart represents love, the crown represents unity and the hands represent unity and loyalty. User says to partner "I come to you with all my heart."

If you look closely at the Scotland Kilt Company log we will see that we have included a Claddagh icon in their design as it is one of our favourites!

Our favorite Celtic fashion

Here at Scotland Kilt Company it was important for us to pass on the traditions and customs of our ancestors. Clothing and accessories are a fantastic way to subtly showcase your Scottish or Celtic heritage, adding just the right touch to your outfits.

Many of our products contain ancient Celtic designs. From cufflinks to belts, you're sure to find the perfect piece to represent your lineage.

(Video) The Celtic Knot Explained

black sporran leather celtic embossed pin padlock

Scottish and Celtic Symbols (13)

This eye-catching leather sporran makes a chic, modern addition to any kilt outfit. The unique pin-lock design creates a distinctive look, while the Celtic knot perfectly showcases the customs of our ancestors.


Scottish and Celtic Symbols (14)

This modern bottle features a bold Celtic cross. Perfect as a gift for the best man, the elegant bottle slips discreetly into any jacket.


Scottish and Celtic Symbols (15)

The Sgian Dubh is an essential part of any Scottish Highland dress. This distinctive blade features an intricate Celtic knot as the base of the blade.


Scottish and Celtic Symbols (16)

This kilt pin highlights a simple triquetra, making it a perfect addition to any kilt outfit. As the symbol often represents the Holy Trinity, this pin is perfect for religious occasions such as weddings, christenings and funerals.


Scottish and Celtic Symbols (17)

These Celtic cufflinks feature an intricate Celtic knot. As an understated addition to any outfit, you can also subtly show off your heritage in a simple suit.


Scottish and Celtic Symbols (18)

This belt highlights Scotland's national flower. With an expertly engraved design, the thistle elevates this smooth leather belt.

final thoughts

We love the wide variety of Celtic and Scottish symbols prevalent in Scotland, Ireland and Wales. With each icon as eye-catching as the last, you're sure to find an icon that matches your style and values.

(Video) The Boar as Celtic Symbol


What is Scottish Celtic symbolism? ›

Celtic iconography such as The Celtic Cross, The Claddagh, and Celtic Knots represent different elements of Celtic culture such as symbols of spirit, emblems of deities, or images from mythological tales. Scottish and Celtic tribal symbols have been passed down generations and become part of the fabric of the country.

What are the Scottish Celtic protection symbols? ›

The Shield Knot is perhaps the most well-known Celtic protection knot, but there were other Celtic warrior symbols. St. Brigid's Cross is another type of knot that is used to protect homes from fire, evil spirits, and hunger.

What is the traditional Scottish symbol? ›

The thistle, the floral emblem of Scotland, also features in Scottish & British heraldry through symbols, logos, coats of arms and on British currency.

What is the Scottish Trinity symbol? ›

The Trinity Knot is known for its three oval loops that overlap each other and are interconnected. This is where the knot derives its Latin name 'Triquetra', which means 'three-cornered'. The number 3 is significant in ancient Celtic culture, since the Celtic people favoured anything that comes in threes.

Are Celtic Irish or Scottish? ›

The Celtic Football Club, commonly known as Celtic (/ˈsɛltɪk/), is a Scottish professional football club based in Glasgow, which plays in the Scottish Premiership. The club was founded in 1887 with the purpose of alleviating poverty in the immigrant Irish population in the East End of Glasgow.

Are Scots Celtic or Gaelic? ›

While Highland Scots are of Celtic (Gaelic) descent, Lowland Scots are descended from people of Germanic stock. During the seventh century C.E., settlers of Germanic tribes of Angles moved from Northumbria in present-day northern England and southeastern Scotland to the area around Edinburgh.

What is the Scottish Celtic symbol for love? ›

Scotland has its own romantic love symbol: the Luckenbooth brooch. This special piece of jewelry was traditionally exchanged between lovers upon their betrothal. The Luckenbooth features two intertwined hearts and is sometimes inscribed with “Of Earthly Joys, Thou Art My Choice”.

What is the Scottish love symbol? ›

A Luckenbooth Brooch is a traditional Scottish love token. Heart-shaped for love, often with two hearts intertwined, and topped with a crown representing loyalty.

What is the Scottish Gaelic symbol for love? ›

The Trinity Knot, also known as the Triquetra, is the most accurate Celtic symbol for unconditional love, in our opinion. This one of the most iconic Celtic Knots for good reason. Examples of it can be found on stone carvings and crosses, ancient jewellery, and illuminated manuscripts, such as the Book of Kells.

What is the most famous Scottish symbol? ›

Carried into many battles over the centuries, the Saltire has become one of the most iconic and proud Scottish symbols. So, you'll see it waving proudly at many attractions, castles and landmarks across Scotland. The blue and white Scottish flag is called the Saltire and features the Saint Andrew's cross.

What is the Scotland Celtic Knot? ›

Celtic knots (Irish: snaidhm Cheilteach, Welsh: cwlwm Celtaidd, Cornish: kolm Keltek, Scottish Gaelic: snaidhm Ceilteach) are a variety of knots and stylized graphical representations of knots used for decoration, used extensively in the Celtic style of Insular art.

What is the Scottish symbol of strength? ›

The Dara Knot

What is this? The Dara Knot (AKA the Celtic Shield Knot) is the most notable Celtic symbol for strength and it's intertwined with the ancient oak tree. The word 'Dara' comes from the Gaelic word 'Doire', which translates to 'Oak Tree'.

How do you know if you're Celtic? ›

A DNA test by iGENEA provides you with evidence of whether you have Celtic roots. Based on your specific genetic characteristics, we can identify your origins and state from which line the Celtic descent is (paternal, maternal or both lines).

Is Celtic culture Scottish? ›

Today, the term 'Celtic' generally refers to the languages and cultures of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, the Isle of Man, and Brittany; also called the Celtic nations.

What race were the Celts? ›

Celt, also spelled Kelt, Latin Celta, plural Celtae, a member of an early Indo-European people who from the 2nd millennium bce to the 1st century bce spread over much of Europe.

What color are Scottish eyes? ›

In fact, in Ireland and Scotland, more than three-fourths of the population has blue or green eyes – 86 percent! Many factors go into having green eyes. Sixteen separate genes have been identified as contributing to eye color.

What race are Scottish? ›

91.8% of people identified as 'White: Scottish' or 'White: Other British' 4.2% of people identified as Polish, Irish, Gypsy/Traveller or 'White: Other'

What is a Scottish blessing? ›

May the blessed sunlight shine on you like a great peat fire, so that stranger and friend may come and warm himself at it. And may light shine out of the two eyes of you, like a candle set in the window of a house, bidding the wanderer come in out of the storm.

What is the Scottish symbol for friendship? ›

What is the Celtic symbol for friendship? Also known as the Triquetra, the Celtic Friendship Knot depicts a circle interwoven with a never-ending three-pointed symbol. With no beginning and no end, the Trinity Knot symbolizes unity and eternal spiritual life.

What is Scottish for Darling? ›

a luaidh! darling, my dear! a chiall!

What is the Scottish word for beautiful? ›

Bonnie – Good

This cheerful Scottish word means 'beautiful' – an indispensable phrase for those exploring the beautiful landscapes of Scotland.

What is the Scottish word for beautiful girl? ›

Bonnie. Female | A quintessential Scottish name that will never go out of fashion, Bonnie is the Scots word for beautiful, pretty, stunning and attractive. Bonnies tend to have an inimitable personality.

Is Celtic mythology Scottish? ›

Celtic mythology comes from several regions and different tribes. The bulk of them are from Ireland and also Wales. Additional sources include Cornwall, Scotland, and the French region of Brittany. Celtic mythology is divided into four cycles or groups.

Do the Scottish use the Celtic Cross? ›

The Celtic Memorial Cross is primarily used for headstones or memorial markers. This kind can be found in many cemeteries across Ireland, Wales, England, and Scotland.

Are Vikings Irish or Scottish? ›

They emerged in the Viking Age, when Vikings who settled in Ireland and in Scotland became Gaelicised and intermarried with Gaels. The Norse–Gaels dominated much of the Irish Sea and Scottish Sea regions from the 9th to 12th centuries.
GaelicAnglicised form"Son of-"
Mac LeòidMacLeodLjótr
8 more rows

What are Scottish fairies called? ›

Scottish fairies go by many names. Often the old Scots called them 'the guid folk' i.e. 'good folk' in a bid to stay on their good side. In Gaelic they're known as the sìth (pronounced 'shee').

Who is the goddess of Scotland? ›

But did you know about Celtic Scotland's most powerful god? She's called Beira, the Queen of Winter. She created landscapes, controlled the weather, and got into a few bizarre situations.

What is the Scottish symbol for warrior? ›

The Trinity Knot, also called the Triquetra, is one of the more well-known Celtic symbol for warrior, having famously appearing in the Book of Kells and carved into stonework across the centuries. Its design consists of three ovals, two pointing down and to the sides, and a central one pointing up.

Are the Irish and Scottish genetically related? ›

Oct 2021. Scotland and Ireland are close neighbours, and it is no surprise that commercial ancestral Y-DNA testing and the resulting hundreds of Y-DNA Case Studies conducted at Scottish and Irish Origenes have revealed lots of shared ancestry among males with Scottish or Irish origins.

What are the 7 Celtic nations? ›

The region became modern day Galicia, which is in northwest Spain and is today considered the seventh of the original Celtic nations, along with Eire (Ireland), Kernow (Cornwall), Mannin (Isle of Mann), Breizh (Brittany), Alba (Scotland) and Cymru (Wales).

Is Trinity knot Irish or Scottish? ›

The Trinity Knot in modern times has become known a is a Celtic Symbol of Love. Known to many and depicted in Celtic jewelry as an Irish Love Knot or a Celtic Love Knot, the Trinity Knot is a beautiful and ancient Celtic symbol. Irish legend says St. Patrick used the Trinity Knot to teach the Holy Trinity to the Celts.

Why are Scottish and Irish so similar? ›

This is because there is a shared root between the native languages of Ireland (Irish) and the Scottish Highlands (Scots Gaelic). Both are part of the Goidelic family of languages, which come from the Celts who settled in both Ireland and Scotland.


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