Celticsprite’s Blog

Three Triskele Brooches
July 15, 2013, 2:49 pm
Filed under: Celtic Jewellery, Celtic Symbolism

Greetings to you all!… I would like to share with you this awesome review previously posted by my friend Esmeralda on her lovely site Esmeralda’s Cumbrian History. (All rights reserved by the author and reposted under her kind permission) © Diane McIlmoyle 

Triskele brooch from Brough. Copyright British Museum
Triskele brooch from Brough. Copyright British Museum
Today I present for your delectation three lovely bronze brooches, all of which were unearthed at Brough in eastern Cumbria. They are officially ‘romano-British’1 which means that they date to the four hundred years after the roman invasion; but archaeology suggests that they are the products of a bronze workshop on this site in the 2nd century CE2.
Brough is a signficant historical and archaeological site. When we look at a modern map, we assume that the main route into Cumbria has always been the M6 but this isn’t the case. The north-south route, despite its roman road (the A6, more or less), was not as significant as you might think. When the railway line was cut parallel to the A6 in the 1870s, engineers had to make 14 tunnels and 22 viaducts just to get the gradient under 1 in 100 and thereby traversable by the latest in high-powered travel at the time, the steam train. The more practical route for centuries –millennia, perhaps – was the Stainmore Pass, or, was we know it, the A66.
The romans built the fort of Verteris here, with a substantial vicus and bath house. Unfortunately, William Rufus agreed with the romans on the tactical usefulness of the position and built his own castle smack-bang on top of the roman one at the end of the 11th century, destroying most of the castle’s remains in the process.

Triskele brooch from Brough. Copyright British Museum
Triskele brooch from Brough. Copyright British Museum

All three brooches feature what we shall, for convenience, describe as a triskele pattern. Three-fold circular patterns are a motif often seen in Europe from prehistory through to the late anglo-saxon period. An early example is the 3,000-year-old carvings on the entrance stone to Newgrange in Ireland – a magical place aligned so that the first rays of the rising sun enter the main chamber at the midwinter solstice – albeit these examples are a continuous circle; if you were drawing it, the last stroke of your pencil would join up with the first.

The triskele designs from Brough are of two types; the most damaged is reminiscent of the Isle of Man logo, with three ‘legs’ joined at a central point. The other two consist of three curving lines that nestle against each other but do not actually touch.
The first triskele brooch picture here – whether by distinction or accident of catalogueing! – is categorised by the British Museum as La Tène, and has a distinctly snake-like appearance.
The second example was both tinned and enamelled, so it would have been silver in appearance, with coloured additions.

The third example is the most damaged, and the ‘true’ triskele as the three ‘arms’ are joined at the centre.We have no historical source for the meaning of the triskele symbol, despite its long popularity. It may have been popular with celtic peoples but it was in use long before they adopted it.

At the Newgrange burial chamber, it’s easy to imagine that its version of the triskele, with no beginning and no end, was about eternal life. Celtic culture was fond of triplicity in many forms, with examples of matronae, or triple mother goddesses, found throughout western Europe during the roman empire. There may have been triple gods, too; Teutates (tribal father), Esus and Taranis (thunderer)3 were associated with 1st century celts, and genii cuculatti (hooded spirits) tend to be portrayed in threes in Britain in the period in which the brooches were made. These were followed (in written form, at least) by the triple forms of the Irish Brigid and Morrigan.

Triskele brooch from Brough. Copyright British Museum
Triskele brooch from Brough. Copyright British Museum

It’s possible that triplicity has meant different things to different peoples, just as it does today. There are many who would say that it represents land, sea and sky; earth, air and water; maiden, mother and crone; mind, body and soul. It has also been adopted as a representation of the christian holy trinity. There are even a couple of incidences of it being used for nefarious purposes which I shan’t spell out here for fear of the effect on Google.

There’s always the possibility, of course, that it was just an attractive bit design but we 21st-century folks can’t resist adding ‘ritual’ meaning to them. Until we find the 1800-year-old bronze-worker’s manual, we’re just guessing.
© Diane McIlmoyle 15.07.13
  1. See the British Museum’s entry. Please note all three pictures are the British Museum’s copyright.
  2. See the Scheduled Ancient Monument details.
  3. The 1st-century roman writer, Lucan, mentioned these three as gods requiring sacrifices, and it’s often been taken to mean that they are three aspects of one god. He doesn’t actually spell this out, though, so they may not be.

"Mithril Celtic Jewellery" by Ogham Jewellery
June 23, 2013, 10:35 pm
Filed under: Celtic Jewellery

I am pleased to share with you the fine handmade creations by Ogham Jewellery designers on behalf of my Blogger friend and owner Michael Freedman based in Ayr, Scotland.
Mithril Silver Celtic Brooch A1 
Mithril Jewellery create timeless designs for Celtic jewellery lovers. They take great pride in their top quality jewellery pieces, every single accomplished item is carefully crafted and inspected meticulously before distribution.

Mithril Jewellery improves their array of pieces every single year with frequent releases of contemporary styles along with the persistent creation of their signature classic designs.

https://i0.wp.com/a248.e.akamai.net/origin-cdn.volusion.com/ukmxg.hqmse/v/vspfiles/photos/Z17-1.jpgThe father of Mithril, set up in 1988, is Russell Dougal Caldwell together with the help of the Prince’s confidence in his creations. Ever since then, he continues to be requested by private and public companies and people to make charming unique silverware pieces.

In making earrings, brooches, quaichs, cufflinks, belt buckles, kilt pins and other jewellery pieces, Russel was influenced by The Golden Age of Celtic Art and the Art Nouveau movement. He utilised the classic hand finishing techniques, and delicate handling approach.

Mithril Jewellery presently offers a broad variety of exquisite sterling silver, gold and enamel jewellery, typically combining semi-precious stones, from ancient to unique fashionable designs. Every single lavishly created piece carries the trademark stamp of the Edinburgh Assay Office identifying the quality and authenticity of the metals.

Enjoy browsing the collection of Mithril Jewellery at Ogham Jewellery Official Site , you will Love Russel’s unique jewellery creations.

Hidden Meanings in Celtic Jewelry
September 11, 2012, 5:46 pm
Filed under: Celtic Jewellery, Celtic Symbolism
I am proud to share with you this interesting post featured on the cute Celtic Harp Music blog from my friend and awesome harpist Anne Roos. If you wish to be a contributor to this blog about all things Celtic and Celtic music, please contact her at CelticHarpMusic.com. (All rights reserved by the authors and published under their kind permissions.) 

Hidden Meanings in Celtic Jewelry

Whether you are looking for unique wedding rings or shopping for early holiday gifts, the beauty of Celtic jewelry might just attract you. But what do all the symbols mean? Guest blogger Justin Henderson reveals the mystery:
photo credit: greyloch via photo pin cc
There is something about Celtic jewelry that catches a person’s attention. It may be the lovely craftsmanship or the elegant knot work. It could be the mysterious touch of another time and culture, lots of wonder and mystery about the Celtic days. When you choose to wear the Celtic jewelry, you choose to wear a piece of their mystery and tradition.Celtic Symbols
For centuries, Celtic jewelry symbols have been in existence and the meanings have changed and evolved over time. Often times, there can be more than one meaning for their jewelry symbols. One of the most ancient is the spiral. This was the first ornament that was used in the Celtic art days. Some people say that the direction the spiral is in has meaning. Clockwise would indicate the sun’s connection with Earth; counter clockwise means nature is manipulated in the form of spells. Some people say the spiral represents the Milky Way, the spiral galaxy. Others feel it indicates the life cycle of humans and animals. Today’s mystics have the belief that it symbolizes a journey inside the unconscious mind.Three Arm Spiral
A triple spiral is also called a triskele or triskellion, which has three arms. On a piece of jewelry, this represents the number three. This is said to represent the Triple Goddess or to Christians, the Holy Trinity. Some people believe it represents the phases of life – life, death and the rebirth. Supposedly, the spiral has some mystical powers that will keep evil from crossing. This is why you so often see this on jewelry as well as in many sacred places in the Celtic world.

The Celtic Knot
In Celtic jewelry you’ll often notice the elegant knot work. The Celtic knot is a sign that there is no beginning or end, that everything is like love eternal. The knots are all so very intricately woven together to show how our life is woven together with the people that surround us. The knot is a symbol of the intricacies of everything in our world. The knots are also said to keep evil out.

Trinity Knot
The trinity knot is also called the triquetra and represents how sacred things will come in threes. When a circle is around the knot, this is an indication of a combined unity of the three. Some of the representations are Land, Sea and Sky, Mind, Body and Soul, or even Past, Present and Future.Celtic Cross 
Another Celtic symbol that is often seen on jewelry is the Celtic Cross. Long ago, it was said that St. Patrick was the one who introduced the Celtic Cross to the Pagans of Ireland. He wanted to teach Pagans how important the symbol of the cross was in Christianity by putting it together with the sun. To do this, St. Patrick combined the cross with the sun wheel. For Christians, the circle they see at the top of the cross is a sign of everlasting love that God has for humans.All of these Celtic symbols are kept alive through the craftsmanship of jewelry today and are a symbol of old history. Wearing these as a piece of jewelry isn’t just another decoration, but a celebration in a sense of the Celtic culture that brought them about today.
Justin Henderson writes about jewelry, and fashion.

"Celtic Heart" by Eliseo Mauas Pinto
June 9, 2012, 11:29 pm
Filed under: Celtic Culture, Celtic Jewellery, Celtic Symbolism, Druidry

May you always have
walls for the winds,
A roof for the rain,
Tea beside the fire,
Laughter to cheer you,
Those you love near you,
And all your heart might desire!

(Old Irish Blessing)

I am pleased to share with you this cover design for  my digital edition of “Celtic Heart”,  published on Smashwords . (You may find some links for Free Download too.)

Celtic Heart is not only a brief compendium regarding the passionate and ancient Culture of the Celtic People, but certainly a good source of information to be read for all those lovers of all things Celtic.

The Claddagh Ring, perhaps one of the most related expressions of the celtic heart symbolism,
plus other remarkable motifs from the Celtic culture make this E-Book a quite amusing one to be read.

I would like to share with you my special acknowledgment to Mysticmorning for granting me her kind permission to use her fabulous “Forest Untouched”  photo stock for the book cover design. Bliss and blessings to you all! 

Celtic Moon Goddess Rhiannon: Symbols and Sacred Objects
September 23, 2011, 3:27 pm
Filed under: Celtic Jewellery, Celtic Moon Goddess, Celtic Symbolism

As I have commented on a previous post, Rhiannon is associated to a “Goddess of fertility”, and also to the moon, night, and death. Her name means ‘Night Queen’. She is associated with horses and has otherworldly birds in her posession. Along with Arianrhod, bears the symbolism of Celtic Moon Goddess with “Fertility” as a common quality and power.

Some also associate her to the Irish “Macha” and the Gaulish “Epona“, the “Horse Goddess”; but I guess it is because of it’s relation with the horse as depicted on the welsh Mabinogion, which does not present Rhiannon as anything other than human.

She is probably a reflex of the Celtic Great Queen goddess Rigantona.

Rhiannon thus bears the stamp of two important Gaulish cults: that of the “Horse Goddess” Epona on one hand; and Matrona, the “Great Mother”, on the other. Rigantona ‘Great Queen’, as Rhiannon would have been known in Romano-British times, is best considered a local variant of this composite figure.

Goddess symbols, individualized for each goddess, were incorporated into the worship of the ancient goddesses, were often worn as jewelry, and also used in the household decor as talismans to seek the goddesses special gifts, blessings, or protection. A large number of goddess symbols have survived in statuary and other works of art.

Many of the goddess symbols come from the legends surrounding a specific goddess and were “characters” in her story. Other goddess symbols were derived from the rituals used in the ancient rites of worship of these pagan goddesses.

Rhiannon is often represented by symbols associated with her astonishing “other-worldliness”.

Moon, horses, horseshoe, songbirds,
gates, the wind, and the Number 7.


Horse, badger, frog, dogs (especially puppies),
canaries and other songbirds, hummingbirds, and dragons.

Narcissus and daffodils, leeks, pansies, forsythia,
cedar and pine trees, bayberry, sage, and rosemary

Sandalwood, neroli, bergamot, lavender,
narcissus, and geranium.

Gems and Metals
Gold, silver, cat’s eye, moonstone,
crystal quartz, ruby, red garnet, bloodstone, turquoise, and amethyst.

Dark green, maroon, gold, silver,
rich brown, white, black, charcoal grey, and ruby red.

Related Sources:

>"More Celtic Wedding Traditions" by Anne Roos
February 23, 2011, 4:51 pm
Filed under: Celtic Culture, Celtic Jewellery | Tags:


Hi to all, I would like to share with you another nice post regarding Celtic Weddings from our partner blog Celtic Harp Music by my harpist friend Anne Roos. All rights reserved by the author.
Amongst my last posts, I’ve shared some traditions about Irish and Scottish weddings. Here are a few more Celtic wedding traditions:The Welsh Lovespoon–This may have been an early type of engagement ring, or perhaps the acceptance of the cared spoon at least meant the beginning of a serious courtship, “going steady”, so to speak. Could this be where the term “spooning” originated? This giving of an elaborate, carved wooden spoon, decorated with keys hearts and balls, origanated in Wales during the 17th century.

The Celtic Love Knot Design–The lines of the Celtic love knot entwined hearts, indicateing theat the two separate lives become one. Other populare knot designes are animals such as the heron, because the heron mates for life. These designs are used to adorn invitatins, napkins, wrappings for favors, and embroidered into the wedding dress and the bride’s hanky.Harvest Love Knots–In Northern Ireland, young men and women would take long braids of straw and twist them into decorative knots to give away as love tokens. When one’s lover accepted a harvest knot, it was assumed that a wedding would follow the next spring. Today, these knots are made with raffie and attorned with flowers and colorful ribbons. They’re used as boutonnieres for the groom, worn int he bride’s haire, attached to the bride’s bouquet, and even used as napkin rings at the wedding reception.

Handfasting–This is a type of Celtic wedding ceremony dating back to the middle Ages, or possibly earlier. Many small villages did not have a local minister or priest to perform marriage ceremonies, so couples would perform a handfasting, which legally bound them until someone of the clergy could perform a ceremony. It was a temporary marrieage that lasted for a year and a day. Handfasting is now included in may wedding ceremonies as a way to honor the couple’s celtic heritage. Their hands are bound together with a cord or a tartan cloth during the vows to show that from that pint foward, they will live and love as one.

These wedding traditions, and more, can be found in the liner notes of Anne Roos CD, “Haste to the Wedding” (Copyright©2005 Anne Roos)

>"Interesting Scottish Wedding Traditions" by Anne Roos
February 2, 2011, 3:55 pm
Filed under: Celtic Culture, Celtic Jewellery

>Hi to all, I would like to share with you another nice post regarding Celtic Weddings from our partner blog Celtic Harp Music by my harpist friend Anne Roos.

The first several months of the year, many brides are making plans for their upcoming weddings in the summer months. In the last post, I shared some traditions about Irish weddings, courtesy of my friend, Reverend David Beronio. You’ll find more traditions at his website.

Here’s what he shares about Scottish weddings:

The groom and his groomsmen often wear Scottish kilts, and traditionally, there are no undergarments worn! (Here’s the classic joke, “What does a Scotsman wear beneath his kilt?” Answer: “His shoes!”). The groom may present the bride with an engraved silver teaspoon on their wedding day to symbolize that they will never go hungry. And the traditional sword dance is sometimes performed at their wedding reception.

Here’s more information about Scottish traditions from the liner notes of my CD, “Haste to the Wedding” (Copyright©2005 Anne Roos):

In traditional Scottish weddings, the groom wears the kilt of his clan, and after the vows have been exchanged, he places a shawl or sash of his clan’s tartan over the shoulders of his bride. This signifies the acceptance and protection of her in the goom’s family clan.

In Scotland, shortbread has been used in wedding celebrations for centuries. An uncut round of shortbread has been broken over the bride’s head at her wedding, showering her with blessings. A safer way to include them would be to wrap individual slices of shortbread in cellophane, tied with neat bows, and provide them as favors at the reception. Either way, including shortbread in the wedding celebration is said to bring good luck and prosperity to all those who partake. (a great recipe for ginger shortbread is found within the pages of my “Haste to the Wedding” liner notes).

“My wife’s a winsome wee thing,
She is a handsome wee thing,
She is a bonnie wee thing,
This sweet wee wife o’ mine.”
–Robert Burns

Have your own Scottish wedding traditions to add? Feel free to comment
Next time: More Celtic Wedding Traditions

A quote from Celtic Sprite:

As Irish have their Claddagh Rings, Scottish have their own CelticWedding Rings. Scottish wedding rings have long been a tradition in Scotland and are still popular, as Scottish weddings rings closely bind a couple together and also to their Scottish heritage.
As such, Scottish wedding rings serve to symbolically bond together a couple’s past, present
and future together. Based on ancient and authentic Clan and Scottish designs, passed down through the ages. As such the Scottish wedding rings are a true link to their Scottish ancestors, and might be passed down through the generations as a true heirloom item. As an ageless expression of union between woman and man, Scottish wedding ring designs will stand the test of time.