Celtic Knot Ring
Celtic Knot Ring – Interconnectedness, Harmony, Or Just A Nice Pattern?
This tungsten carbide ring uses interconnected knots to form its striking Celtic pattern. It captures the rustic spirit of its ancient roots but its interior has been carefully rounded for comfort and made from allergen-free material. The interconnected knots are one of two styles common in the Celtic cultures of Northern France, Britain, and Ireland. The other style uses two continuous, interwoven threads. Some believe the interconnected variety seen in this ring represents the various interconnections that exist between man and nature, between members of a family, or between lovers. Celtic people, much like people today, probably tended to interpret beautiful objects like this Celtic knot ring in a variety of ways.
Whatever meaning the Celtic people attributed to them, the interlaced patterns adorning many pieces of Celtic art like this ring have their roots in late Roman culture. These patterns first begin to appear in the 3rd and 4th Centuries AD on floor mosaics. Celtic artists and artisans first came into contact with these patterns through Roman expansion, copying patterns from Roman mosaics into their stone and metalwork. The interlaced knot pattern underwent further developments in the Byzantine Empire through an eastern influence and later early-Christian Celtic book illumination took the medium to new heights. This knotwork is also a primary influence on the Oseberg Viking style and Anglo-Saxon artwork – though the knotwork has primarily become associated with the Celtic people. This Celtic knot ring has its roots deep in European prehistory with a level of Celtic interpretation.
Of Serpents And Dragons
The knotwork style was often used to depict snakes and dragons in the Celtic world. Most ancient cultures have some innate fear of these creatures and the Celtic world, in particular, placed them in a place of fear and reverence. The use of interconnected knots in ancient sites like Newgrange in Ireland must have played some ancient symbolic role – some speculate serpentine myths. The Celtic word for chieftain Pendragon contains the word and it’s clear from their place in Irish mythology that pre-Christian dragons were not mindlessly evil but symbols of fertility and power. Some have speculated that St Patrick’s driving the snakes from Ireland is symbolism for driving to old pagan ways from the country. Celebrate this rich history with the Celtic knot ring
Why Dragons In Every Culture
Dragons wrought in the curvilinear style seen on this ring are a common theme in the ancient Celtic world, with prominent examples surviving from The Tales of the Irish Elders, where Na Fianna (a legendary band of warriors) defeat a great dragon or peist.
Psychologists, historians, and anthropologists have all hypothesised that the presence of dragons in so many myths is due to snakes being such a major predator of our primate ancestors. Most early attestations of dragons have very snake-like features. This is but one of a huge number of theories that have been put forward. Many cultures’ versions of dragons also borrow features from birds of prey and large cats. Another hypothesis suggests that Indian myths surrounding dragons were influenced by bones witnessed in fossil beds below the Himalayas. Surely humankind encountered the bones of large extinct animals before the modern era and wondered at what they were?
Places Of Power
Either way, mankind shares a common fear of snakes, and this fear likely plays a role in perpetuating the dragon myths that are present in almost every human culture. In Celtic cultures, like many others, dragons are associated with places that snakes would typically be – deep pools, eerie forests, and caves. It’s in this context that Na Fianna encounter the peist. The dragons of the early literary traditions of Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Mann are usually water beasts, found in caves and especially on lake beds. The word “peist” derives from the Latin for “beast” and is not an indigenous Irish word.
Some scholars believe that now extinct migrating crocodiles encountered near forested or swampy areas could be the source of dragon myths in some places. No matter the location, the reptilian features of dragons generally remain the same – scaly skin, spinal nodes running down the back, and a serrated jaw with many sharp teeth.
Competing For Tree
Anthropologist David E. Jones suggests that because humans have descended from monkeys, we have carried the same innate fear of snakes, large cats, and birds of prey as our animal ancestors. He cites various studies to prove his point, the most convincing of which is the way most young children are afraid of snakes, even if they have no previous exposure to the animals or any understanding of why they are dangerous. The idea of a dragon sharing features of big cats, birds of prey, and snakes, is a kind of amalgamation of all our major predators when we were living in trees.
The Frightening Made Fearsome
By the time humans developed into the state we find them in the Late Migration/Early Medieval Period, some had taken to using dragon motifs to decorate their weapons, cups, and possibly other domestic objects. According to The Four Branches of the Mabinogi, one of the earliest prose stories in Britain, pairs of dragons often adorned the weapons (and in particular scabbards) of warriors. These dragons were apparently found on the hilt of Excalibur, the weapon of the great King Arthur – perhaps the best known Celtic mythical figure.
Celtic Warriors Of Note
The earliest references to Celtic people come from the Greeks, who gave them the name we use today by referring to these people as “Keltoi”. Though the Romans later used the term Galli or “Gauls”, the Greek name has become synonymous with this culture which originated in Central Europe but held out longest in places like Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Examples of stonework, chalices, illuminated books and jewellery decorated in the same style as this Celtic knot ring can still be found throughout those countries in museums and artisan’s workshops alike.
Boudica – Celtic Warrior Queen
Though King Arthur is England’s best-loved Celtic myth, the tale of Boudica is no less dramatic for being at least partially based on historical fact. This Celtic knot ring, in part, celebrates her enduring legacy. Boudica was a Celtic Queen who stood up to the might of the Roman Empire but before we begin her tale, we should discuss the place of women in Celtic society.
A Woman’s Role
Though ancient Celtic culture produced very little written records, we know from the accounts of others who were in contact with them and from the surviving Brehon Laws of Ireland, that women had more autonomy in the Celtic world than the Roman, or later Anglo-Saxon societies. Celtic women could own property, divorce their husbands, and train as warriors that would wear armour such as the Artemis Celtic Leather Cuirass. Many of these things were uncommon events, however, and it’s thought that the status of women in Celtic culture, though different from its neighbours, was still not equal to men.
Reaction to Roman Rule
Boudica’s husband was Prasutagus, King of the Iceni tribe of modern-day East Anglia, then under Roman rule. Hoping to appease the Romans on his death and protect his family, the king left his kingdom to his two daughters and Rome in his will. At this time, Nero was emperor of Rome and his lavish spending made it necessary to call in the interest on loans Rome had lent to its newest colonies. The Iceni and other Celtic tribes in Britain had taken Roman gold, not because they needed it, but so that they had a currency with which to trade with Rome. On King Prasutagus’ death, the Roman governor of Britain, Paulinus plundered Iceni lands and households, publicly flogging Boudicca and assaulting her two daughters. Other Iceni chiefs and their families were treated similarly.
The Sack of Cities
Rather than accept this treatment, Boudica called the other chiefs and mobilized a
n army while Paulinus was campaigning on the island of mona (modern-day Angelsey). Queen Boudica led the Iceni, Trinovantes, and other tribes to sack the city of Camulodunum (modern-day Colchester) and began a march on the 20-year-old trading settlement of Londinium (now London). The Roman authorities, releasing they had insufficient numbers to defend the city, abandoned their position and fled. To the Romans, the fact that a woman had made them flee was probably a source of great shame. Romans didn’t think women could be capable leaders or warriors, and yet here they were running from a woman they had once flogged.
The Celts took Londinium and Verulamium, burning all three cities they’d taken and killing an estimated 70, 000 to 80, 000 Romans – many by torture and burning. The remaining accounts all come from the Roman perspective, so are understandably biased. They are, however, consistent enough to paint a grim picture of civilians being burnt in temples, graves being desecrated, and people mutilated.
A Grim End
The Romans under Suetonius regrouped, possibly in the West Midlands. And despite being heavily outnumbered, the Romans managed to defeat the Celtic forces, inflicting heavy casualties and quelling rebellion in the region. Historian Tacitus, who recorded the event more than fifty years after it occurred, attributes a long, dramatic speech to Boudica. In it, she pleads a convincing case to the assembled soldiers as to why they should follow her into battle. Understandably, historians have long questioned the validity of Tacitus’ speeches. They all seem to be written in the style of Tacitus, and usually appear to be written to help contextualise his Roman audience with the events he is portraying. In the case above, It seems unlikely that Boudica would need to spend any time convincing people who’d already followed her into battle several times before to trust her despite her being a woman. She already had the trust of these people as a warrior and a leader. It’s the Roman audience who were likely preoccupied with her gender, given their more patriarchal society.
Vercingetorix was the chieftain of the Averni tribe and his name translates as “victor of a hundred battles”. Given the Celtic tribes’ lack of written history, we depend on Roman accounts of events. For this reason, we don’t know much about Vercingetorix before he united the Gauls in revolt against Roman rule. Even this title, Vercingetorix, was applied after his contact with the Romans. Some Celtic tribes are thought to have withheld their true names from all but their closest confidants, believing that in knowing a person’s true name, you held power over them.
His Rise And Fall
Vercingetorix fought a largely unconventional war, attacking supply lines and leading Romans into attacking in conditions that favoured the Celtic warriors. He won the Battle of Gergovia against Julius Caesar, killing several thousand Roman troops – a serious black eye for the empire. In 52 BC, at the Battle of Alesia, the Romans besieged and defeated the tribes, and to save as many of his men as possible, Vercingetorix turned himself over to the Romans. He was transported back to Rome as an effective display of Caesar’s power where he was held captive for 5 years before being executed to celebrate a festival.
What Are The Sources
The Celtic intellectual class were called druids. It’s thought these learned men and women didn’t believe in writing things down for several reasons. Druids had a monopoly on sacred lore, learning, and possibly healing. Writing their knowledge down would help to proliferate it and reduce the value of the druids’ services, rendering them less wealthy and powerful members of society. It’s believed status was just as important in Celtic culture as it is in contemporary society. Because the druids didn’t leave any written records, we depend almost entirely on the accounts of Greeks and Romans who encountered them in antiquity.
(Partially) Fake News
Caesar believed that part of the Celtic ferocity in battle was due to their belief that the soul passes from one body to another on death, rendering them near fearless in warfare. A huge amount of our information on Celtic warriors and battle strategy comes from the war journals of Caesar. But it’s worth remembering that when fighting the Gauls (or Celts as we now call them), Caesar was trying to build his reputation as a leader and consolidate his power in Rome. He had a vested interest in presenting Celtic warriors as being ferocious, larger than life characters who could scare Romans into accepting authoritarian rule. However, there are enough contemporary accounts from ancient historians to attest that Celts were probably taller, stronger, and fairer than the Roman people and fought with great individual courage.
Historical Culture Shock
Roman historian, Diodorus Siculus described the Celts in the first century B.C as terrifying in appearance with deep harsh voices. The otherness of different races can still intimidate those unused to cross-cultural exchange or travel in the modern era. It’s possible that these early accounts of Romans encountering Celts were a much more potent form of this, projecting qualities onto these tribal people that may not have been there at all. He also goes on to discuss how they speak in riddles and hint at many things without ever explaining them. Again, the huge differences between the creation myths, religions, culture, and languages of these two peoples must have made it hard for them to understand each other, even when linguistic translation was available. Diodorus’ assertion that the Celtic people were boasters, threateners and prone to self-aggrandizing seems to be a fairly typical psychological profile of a warrior culture without the rigid hierarchical structures of Roman, Greek, and post-classical western military. A man’s (and sometimes a woman’s in Celtic culture) worth were measured by prowess in battle and a certain amount of boasting may have been required to effectively climb the hierarchy. According to Diodorus’ account, the Celtic warriors he met were quick-witted with a good natural aptitude for learning.
Mad For War
It seems inevitable that when a civilisation’s primary contact with another race is armed conflict, that civilisation will develop the idea (however incorrect) that the culture of their enemy is as war-like as those on the battlefield. Roman historian, Strabo describes the entire race of Celtic people as madly fond of war and willing to fight against the odds alone. He explains that though not of evil character, Celtic people are easily stirred up and of exceptional individual courage. Several historians have also pointed out that Celtic women, unlike those living under the overtly patriarchal society of Roman culture, were high-spirited and often as intimidating as the men. Caesar’s war journals mention that when introduced to strong alcohol in the form of wine, many Celts fell into a semi-permanent stupor, often consuming much more than was healthy or optimal for fighting men.
Material: Celtic Knot Ring is 100% Tungsten Carbide