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Celtic Warrior

Celtic Warrior

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Celtic Symbol For Warrior

Ideas About The Celtic Symbol For Warrior: I’ve been asked on several occasions if there is a Celtic symbol for warrior, or a symbolic representation of such. Celtic symbols are sometimes tough to accurately identify because the surviving written records of Celtic symbol representation are spotty at best.

Much of the research has been from conjecture and supposition from authorities and historians of ancient Celtic culture. Other information of ancient Celtic symbols comes by way of the Romans who observed the Celts in awe and made note of their colorful diversity.

Celtic symbol for warrior

Hazy historic details aren’t so bad. This allows us to tap into the mystery of the Celtic way, follow our hearts, and open up to our intuition when it comes to Celtic symbolism.

Most likely, Celtic clans would adopt personalized symbols indicating their warrior status. These personal symbols would be exhibited in daily art as the Celts were master artists and craftspeople.

Some such personal symbols may include knot motifs (with turns holding specific meaning), skulls, colors, personal (clan) insignias, animals (as a sort of family or personal totem), trees & other vegetation, etc.

Regarding the Warrior – the Celtic representation of this attribute would have certainly been created artistically and exhibited proudly. As we know, the Celts were a warring culture – and thus likely correlated identity with courage.

Celtic symbols for warrior and symbols for strength

“We have no word for the man who is excessively fearless perhaps one may call such a man mad or bereft of feeling, who fears nothing, neither earthquakes nor waves, as they say of the Celts”

A fierce warrior would be apt to establish his symbolic status as a warrior with woad tattoos.

There are certain theories that the Celtic warrior would have free flowing tattoos embellished on his body along sexual/prime energy points of his body….these points are called meridians. The idea is that these imprints along power meridians would enhance the warriors’ performance in battle.

A sword is the ultimate symbol of a warrior. Meaning, the Celtic warrior’s sword would be an utmost status symbol.

Further research uncovers Some forms of Celtic/ancient Anglo divination reference the Celtic symbol for warrior.

Celtic warrior symbol

“Physically the Celts are terrifying in appearance, with deep sounding and very harsh voices. In conversation, they use few words and speak in riddles, for the most part, hinting at things and leaving a great deal to be understood. They frequently exaggerate with the aim of extolling themselves and diminishing the status of others. They are boasters and threateners and given to bombastic self-dramatization, and yet they are quick of mind and with a good natural ability for learning.”

Diodorus Siculus, first century B.C.

Boudica’s husband was a King Prasutagus, which therefore made her a Queen. When this Celtic king died, the Romans came and demanded taxes from people living on the land. Queen Boudica was a strong woman and refused, but this led to her being tied to a post and beaten in front of her people.

Angry for revenge, Boudica led an army to a Roman town called Colchester where she defeated the Romans. With her large strong army, she then attacked London and St.Albans and she won again. All that remained was to defeat the governor and his army and then they would be free of Roman rule.

As strong as Boudica’s army was, the Romans were stronger and pushed them back. The battle was lost. Rather than be captured by the Roman army, Boudica killed herself by drinking poison.

Boudicca's attack
Boudicca and the Iceni tribe successfully defeated the Roman Ninth Legion and destroyed the capital of Roman Britain, then at Colchester. Colchester
Regular guided tours of Colchester run throughout the year, charting the town's journey from Camulodunum - the Roman capital destroyed by Boudica - to present-day Colchester.

Class in Celtic Society

In modern America, we’re raised to be individualists, concerned mostly about our own wants, needs and achievements. The Celts were the exact opposite. In their world, loyalty to tribe and clan (and to a lesser degree, kingdom) was everything. While they honored and rewarded individual acts of political and military prowess or extraordinary bravery, in the grand scheme, their family and societal units were the most influential in shaping their mindsets and defining who they were.

There were five major groups in Celtic society. Both men and women could be members of any of these groups.

Boudicea haranguing her troops by Edward Farr (and others) (The national history of England) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

3. Professionals – The professional class included anyone with specialized skill: blacksmiths, metal workers, genealogists, historians, lawyers and physicians are all frequently mentioned in contemporary Roman, Greek and other accounts of Celtic society. Any one of these professions could include the Druids and warriors, too. If a person proved multi-talented, they were given a special elevated status and often accumulated great power and wealth.

4. Slaves – The Celts owned slaves. There I said it. As uncomfortable as it is to modern sensibilities, it’s true. Slaves were often members of conquered tribes or peoples and frequently were used as currency to pay debts or honor agreements. Female slaves actually had a going rate that fluctuated over time and were the most popular, followed by children. Hey, I never said Celtic society was all rainbows and butterflies.

5. Outlaws – Outlaws are exactly what the word sounds like, people who were “outside of the law.” They lived in wilderness areas between tribes and often functioned as a makeshift sort of police force. But before you go thinking all Robin Hood, keep in mind these were people without a tribe or family in a world where those relationships defined you. In a way, Celtic society was similar to the Quakers or Amish. If you were shunned by society, you no longer existed. But unlike those later societies, the Celts had to do more than say they were sorry to get back in. More on that later.

You may notice there is no separate category for nobility. That is strange to those of us used to a more Medieval mindset, but in the Celtic world, both the Druids and the warriors could be nobles depending on their lineage, function and wealth. The Celts had a rule that any member of honorable society (the first three classes) could be stripped of their legal rights if they failed to execute the legal obligations of their station.

There is much more that can be said about the Druids, warriors and outlaws, so I’ll address each in more detail in future blog posts. Warning: I have fascination with the Druids, so you’re going to get to know them pretty darn well.


Let us start with triskelion since it has been one of the most commonly used Celtic symbols throughout history. The terms triskelion and triskele (another name used for the symbol) are Greek words with the same meaning “three-legged”. Triskelion is a symbol comprised of three conjoined spirals with rotational symmetry. That is why it is also called “the triple spiral”.

The origin of the symbol goes back to very early times. The earliest examples of the triskelion were found in Malta (4400-3600 BC), on Lycian coins, Mycenaean ships, staters of Pamphylia which is now southern Anatolia (staters were coins representing authorities in ancient times) and at the megalithic passage tomb in Newgrange, Ireland (which is estimated to be built around 3200 BC).

But what does it represent? There are a lot of interpretations regarding its uses most of which are related to trinities and triple nature of things.

At this point, it would be useful to underline the importance of threes and trinities in Celtic culture. As you will read below, many of the ancient Celtic symbols had some kind of relation to a trinity and/or things of triple nature.

As for what the triskelion meant for the Celts, firstly it was used to represent triune/triadic/triple deities, in other words, three deities worshipped as one. It also represents triple nature and the movement of life which is formed of past, present and future. The triskelion was also a symbol of strength in Celtic culture since it represents the will to move forward overcoming adverse conditions one might face.

The triskelion symbol looks like it is moving and in that sense, it is also considered as the symbol of progress, personal growth and improvement.

Different variations of the symbol were created throughout time and sometimes it can be seen as three conjoined legs.

The flags of Sicily and the Isle of Man, the seal of the US Department of Transportation and the roundel of Irish Air Corps are all examples for the modern use of the triskelion/triskele.

Celtic troop types and organization [ edit | edit source ]

No Celtic group employed a regular military as we would understand it. Organisation was according to clan grouping and social class. The Celtiberian term Uiros Uiramos may denote a war leader, while their immediate companions were known in Gaulish as *ambaxtoi ("those who accompany") a term which passed into Latin and from which our own word ambassador ultimately derives.

The earliest encounter with the Romans in 387 BC resulted in all of Rome apart from the Capitoline Hill falling to a confederacy of Gaulish tribes led by Brennus of the Senones. Little or no detail is given of the methods of warfare of these Gauls except that according to Plutarch some were armed with swords and some were mounted. ⎙] In 280 BC another Brennus led a formidable Celtic army South to attack Greece and Thrace. According to Pausanias this force included large numbers of cavalry, organised in a system called Trimarchisia (*tri- *marko- "three horse") dividing them into teams of three, only two of which would be mounted at one time. Brennus' expedition would have originated in Pannonia and Noricum, a region which later became famous for producing high quality steel for weaponry.

Infantry and cavalry [ edit | edit source ]

Tacitus wrote that the strength of the Celts lies in their infantry ⎚] but some had a strong cavalry arm and others continued to use chariots.

The famous Celtic shield found at Battersea.

In earlier times, the Celts would employ the chariot. ⎛] Despite the fact that from the end of the 3rd century BC chariots had fallen out of use in continental Europe, Caesar found that they still were a major component in the patterns warfare among the Britons. If his descriptions are to be believed, he encountered in Britain an army in transition, possessing cavalry but still with an elite fighting from chariots. He describes how these warriors would throw javelins from their vehicles before abandoning them to fight on foot and returning to them in order to retreat or redeploy. ⎜] Cavalry proper is described as used for skirmishing. Gauls are said to have commented that they themselves had formerly used chariots but had abandoned them by this time.

"Their mode of fighting with their chariots is this: firstly, they drive about in all directions and throw their weapons and generally break the ranks of the enemy with the very dread of their horses and the noise of their wheels and when they have worked themselves in between the troops of horse, leap from their chariots and engage on foot. The charioteers in the mean time withdraw some little distance from the battle, and so place themselves with the chariots that, if their masters are overpowered by the number of the enemy, they may have a ready retreat to their own troops. Thus they display in battle the speed of horse, [together with] the firmness of infantry." ⎝]

The carnyx was a wind instrument of the Iron Age Celts, attested for ca. 300 BC to 200 AD. It is a kind of bronze trumpet, held vertically, the mouth styled in the shape of a boar's head. It was used in warfare, probably to incite troops to battle and intimidate opponents. ⎞] The instrument's upright carriage allowed its notes to carry over the heads of the participants in battles and ceremonies.

Mercenaries [ edit | edit source ]

Celtic warriors served as mercenaries in many armies of the classical period. The best known ⎟] were those who joined Hannibal in his invasion of Italy during the Second Punic war and who contributed to his victories in Lake Trasimene and in Cannae. Celtic mercenaries fought on the sides of Ancient Greeks and Romans as well. When a branch of Brennus' invasion force turned East and crossed the Hellespont, they founded a Celtic-ruled state in Asia Minor known as Galatia. Galatia became well known as a source of mercenaries throughout the Eastern Mediterranean region. Illustrations showing troops armed with long, straight swords and oval shields have generally been taken to depict Galatians.

The Greek historian Polybius gives an account of the Battle of Telamon 225 BC in which the Romans defeated an invasion by the Boii, Insubres, Taurisci and Gaesatae. The Gaesatae were said to be a group of warriors who fought for hire and it is they who are described in the most detail. Whereas the Boii and Insubres wore trousers and cloaks which were thick enough to afford some protection from the Roman javelins, the Gaesatae removed their clothes to fight naked, standing in front of their allies and seeking to intimidate the Romans with shouting and gesturing. However, this lack of protection caused their defeat since they apparently carried relatively small shields which did not adequately protect them against the missile fire of the Roman skirmishers. Suffering heavy casualties, the Gaesatae either fled the battlefield or desperately charged headlong into the Roman lines where, outmatched for both numbers and equipment, they were defeated. What position the Gaesatae occupied in Celtic society has been much debated. Early writers assumed that they were a tribe, but later authors have inclined to the view that they may have been groups of unattached young warriors who lived by raiding and mercenary activities like the early Roman iuventes or the semi-legendary Irish fiana. ⎠]

There are accounts of Celtic soldiers in the bodyguards of Cleopatra VII of Egypt and Herod of Judea. Josephus in his Antiquities of the Jews mentions Gallic or Galatian soldiers present at the funeral of King Herod the Great. [ citation needed ]

Navy [ edit | edit source ]

While relatively little has been written about Celtic warfare at sea, the Gaulish Veneti, a tribe occupying the South of Brittany fiercely resisted Caesar's Romans both on land and at sea. They were said to have constructed ships of oak with tough leather sails, well adapted for plying the rough Atlantic seas. Their capital, Darioritum, was extremely difficult to attack from land. At first the Roman galleys, fighting in unfamiliar conditions, were at a great disadvantage until new tactics were developed by the Roman admiral Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus which resulted in a decisive victory for Caesar's men. The Veneti were subject to savage reprisals for their defiance.


1) A Military History of Ireland - Thomas Bartlett and Keith Jeffery

3) War and Society in the Ancient and Medieval Worlds - Kurt A. Raaflaub


I am pleased that you regard my little essay highly enough to make it a required source. Thank you for your confidence in my thoughts on the subject.

If I may, I'd like to recommend a few other sources for someone following this curriculum, though this is hardly exhaustive:

The Demon's Sermon on the Martial Arts - Issai Chozanshi, tr. by William Scott Wilson
The Counsels of Cormac - tr. by Thomas Cleary (not the best translation, but the most easily available)
True Helm - Sweyn Plowright
In Search of the Warrior Spirit - Richard Strozzi-Heckler
Small Unit Leadership - Col. Dandridge M. Malone (Ret.)
Light Infantry Tactics - Christopher E. Larsen (perhaps this is a little more specific, though)

Thanks C. Lee. I'm sure there are a zillion other books worthy of reading. These were simply a small list and the course, when it would have had mentors, would have definitely been open to other books on the subject, so thank you for the list and the awesome article.

11 Inspiring Celtic Symbols That Convey Power and Strength

The Celtic warriors were among the greatest warriors history has ever witnessed? The Celts were known to be strong and challenging, both physically and mentally. They were born to fight and never gave up! Celtic symbols for strength have been a very famous symbolic representation of power and endurance, be it at a physical or a mental level! They were the source of the Celtic warriors strength and gave them the courage to face difficulties.

The Celtic warriors were among the greatest warriors history has ever witnessed? The Celts were known to be strong and challenging, both physically and mentally. They were born to fight and never gave up! Celtic symbols for strength have been a very famous symbolic representation of power and endurance, be it at a physical or a mental level! They were the source of the Celtic warriors strength and gave them the courage to face difficulties.

Another interesting thing about the Celtic warriors was that they considered both men and women to be equal in strength and war! They believed in the strength of symbols and always painted their bodies in a blue dyestuff obtained from the woad plant. After having done that, they adorned their bodies, and honorably fought in the wars and came out as conquerors. Isn’t that a mark of a true warrior?

Celtic Strength Symbols

Symbols were of great significance to the Celts. Fierce and powerful warriors like them with great courage and gallantry, were all painted with different symbols which were inspired from the energy of nature and animals around them. The ancient Celts used to paint their bodies with them, believing that these symbols will protect them from the enemy and also give them the traits of the fearless symbolic tools and animals.

The Griffin symbolizes the strength and fierce mythical creature, which is believed to have the upper body (head, wings, and talons) of an eagle, and the lower body and tail of a lion. These creatures did not only look fierce but were also known to be impossible to defeat due to the characteristics that they possessed, sharp like an eagle and strong like a lion.

The Celtics had a horse-goddess named Epona. She was considered to be the goddess of victory over enemies. Another reason why this animal was a symbolic representation of strength to the Celtics was the fact that a horse that provided speed, aggression, strength, and dominance over the opponent. They believed that painting the image of the horse gave them the same qualities as this animal , and the blessings of Epona. All this, meant a closer step to a victorious win in the battle war.

The symbol of dragon was used to strike fear into the minds of the enemy! It was considered one of the most strong as well as fierce creatures, in many cultures including ancient Japan and China. The dragon is the ideal leader and ruler. It is strong and powerful with its massive size, has the capacity to go beyond the land, rivers, and sky because of its ability to fly, and no one can stand against its fierceness because it breathes fire making it the most superior symbol of strength.

The ancient Celtics always indulged in wars and battles to accumulate more land and assets from their enemies. The wars those days continued for days and weeks together. To sustain the physical and mental pressure, the Celtic warriors required a lot of strength. The bull signifies exactly the same thing. Along with this, the bull also signifies manliness and sexual endurance along with abundance in wealth.

The stag is the most famous symbol of Celtic warrior. It is associated with the ancient horned god named Cernunnos, who was considered to be the god of all the animals in the wild. It is believed that Cernunnos had horns like that of a stag. This symbol was painted on the warrior bodies when they headed for fierce activities like hunting and battle. This symbolized the presence of the heroic spirits and the protection of the ancient God, Cernunnos.

The Celtic symbols for strength were chosen by the ancient by observing mother nature and its creatures. The Celts knew that the boar is one of the most courageous and difficult animal to hunt. Because of these characteristics, the boar was one of the most famous symbol for strength, courage, and valor. When this symbol was painted on them, they believed that the spirit of the boar has entered them, and it will help them win the war and defeat the enemy.

Both the eagle, and the Raven, were a symbol of connection between the Celtic warriors and the Celtic gods and goddesses. Eagles and ravens depicted freedom, they depicted that they were not bound to the lands, and that they had the capacity of going beyond the limits of their material existence. The Celtics believed that these creatures brought messages from the God’s residing in heaven and helped them by providing direct connection with the heavenly spirits.

Another animal that depicted strength, courage, stamina, intelligence, and fierceness is the wolf. Another quality that the wolf has is the instinct to follow its intuition. The Celts were warriors and hunters, and what could be a better source of inspiration and strength than a creature who is known for its hunting abilities. Apart from the wolf itself, the wolf claw also was a very famous symbol of strength and endurance.

This symbolized that the Celtic warriors were the “brothers of the arrow“. It was considered an honor for the Celts to be a part of a fierce battle, and risk their lives for victory. The Celtic arrows symbolized the power to pierce the life of the enemy. The arrow was also the symbolic representation of the sun, as the sun pierces through darkness and defeats it. Therefore, the design was like a sun pierced with an arrow. The arrow also symbolized the virility of the warriors.

The Celts were warriors, therefore, shields were a natural symbol for their battle fights, protecting them against the enemy attack. Therefore, shields too, are a very well-known symbol for strength. This is one of the Celtic symbols for power signifying bravery, protection, and a safe return home after victory.

The Ogham symbols are a group of 20 symbols which represent the sacred trees wherein every tree has a special characteristics and attribute. The Ogham symbolic letter D or Duir was a symbol of the Alder tree which was a symbol of endurance and strength for the Celtic warriors. The letter F for Fern was a symbol of the great and mighty oak tree, which symbolized strength and stability. In fact, the oak tree was believed to be a great source and reservoir containing unlimited cosmic energy.

The Celts were very artistic, the glimpse of which can be seen in their shields and metal art work. Truly, the Celtic culture was blessed with courage, art, and strength. Incorporating these Celtic symbols for strength in your life in the form of tattoos or jewelry designs, can be a good way to keep the Celtic spirit alive!

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First of all, I know that this book has been the subject of some arguments on the validity of the word `Celt' in reference to the ancient Gauls, Britons, and Galatians. In my review I am going to remain neutral, however, and review the book solely for its own sake.

O hOgain's book is lavishly illustrated and appears to be well-researched, fleshing out the appearance, fighting styles, and history of these ancient warriors using words that capture the reader's attention. By telling the history of the warriors of ancient Gaul, Britain, Eire, Celtiberia, and Galatia, he effectively gives the whole history of these realms as it is known to us - including their clashes with the Greeks, their service in Carthaginian armies, and their piecemeal conquest by the Roman Republic.

The author reveals, like most books on this topic, the various strengths and weaknesses of the ancient Gauls - tall, strong, and courageous, but also superstitious, undisciplined, and prone to heavy drinking and fighting amongst themselves. As a student of the Classical World, I have to admit that, as I read the story of the Gaulish warriors I find myself sympathizing more with the Romans. Any potential, however great, these `barbarians' may have had was lost by their pitiful disunity and bickering amongst themselves. `A united Gaul can defy the universe', this was the dream of Vercingetorix the Arvernian, one of the few visionaries that appear in Rome's accounts of the Gauls, and it was a dream too late to be realized by the time he made his stand against Julius Caesar in 52 BC. Not unlike Scotland's Highlanders, the warriors of Gaul were in fact not destined to realize their full potential as warriors until after they were conquered by their imperial neighbors - by the 2nd Century AD, the warriors of Gaul, Britain, and Spain were providing the majority of recruits into the Roman Army.

As a previous reviewer observed, this book tells the story of the wars between the Romans and Gauls without glorifying or demonizing either side, and I found it to be a well - rounded and fair work of legitimate history. Other reviewers, and those who have left negative remarks on reviews - should worry less about the relevance of the word `Celt' than they should the actual content of the book they are attacking.

Celtic Weapons and Armor

I recently received a very sweet note from a sixth grade girl named Trinity, asking for help with a project she’s doing on King Arthur. Her questions were specifically around weapons and armor and it occurred to me that I’ve never done a blog post dedicated specifically to that topic. So this is an expansion of the information I sent her. (Best of luck, Trinity!)

As with all other generalizations about the Celts, sources contradict one another and the information will vary depending on time period and place. For purposes of this post, I’m focusing on Britain during the time period of my novels, approximately 400-550 AD/CE.

The Celts wore trousers, tunics and cloaks into battle. The early Celts did not wear armor, but later on armor was most likely a leather jerkin. As time went on, some fought protected by a type a bronze plate. But it is possible they also used a type of chain mail, which the Celts actually invented. What is not known is when it stopped being used. The web site ancientmilitary.com mentions Ceannlann armor, “a layer of metal scales sewn onto linen which is in turn sown on to chain armor creating a very effective multilayer armor that could cover the entire body.” (I have not been able to back this up with other sources. If you know of any, please tell me.)

As for the tradition that they fought naked? Perhaps it was all hogwash. Maybe it was true at some point, or true of some of the tribes and not others, but from what I can tell, most of the time, they fought clothed and at least lightly armored. Given the success of the Celtic armies over the centuries, I tend to believe they used armor.

Celtic horned helmet now in the British Museum (150-50 BC: from the River Thames at Waterloo Bridge, London, England). The helmet is made from sheet bronze pieces held together with many carefully placed bronze rivets. It is decorated with the style of La Tène art used in Britain between 250 and 50 BC. Via Wikimedia Commons

As with armor, at first the Celts fought without helmets. When they did adopt them, the helmets seem to have been metal and looked a lot like a Roman’s helmet (some say the Romans intimated the Celtic helmets, others argue it was the other way around) or they may have had horns (there is one in the British Museum that has horns, but it is from the Iron Age).

They carried large shields made of wood, bronze or leather, which could have been rectangular in shape or cone-shaped with a boss in the middle meant to catch the opponent’s weapon. The shields were tall enough to cover them from the shoulder to the knee.

The Celts’ favorite weapon was the spear. There were two kinds: a light one that they could throw like a javelin, and a heavier version that was used in close contact battle for thrusting, more like a lance. These were the weapons par excellence for most of Celtic history.

Their second favorite weapon was a sword. At least in early times, the Celtic sword probably would have been smaller than the broadswords we think of from the Middle Ages. It was likely more like the Roman short swords. As time went on, swords got longer and heavier. Alcock notes that the Irish and Picts were known to fight with extremely long (20-22 inch) double-edged swords. (He also reports that the Saxons fought with two-handed swords up to 36 inches long.) These were meant for one-handed fighting (stalling and slashing) and intimidation of your opponent. I’m no fencing expert, but it stands to reason that longer swords were less effective the closer your opponent was, given the space it took to wield them.

The Celts also fought with slings (slingshots that launched rocks and other projectiles), and bows and arrows, as well as axes and daggers. Duffy also mentions a “javelin-like weapon called a Madaris (84),” but I haven’t been able to find any additional information on that weapon.

What have your heard, read or seen about the Celts in battle? What do you think is true? What questions do you have?

Watch the video: Celtic Warrior - Let the battle begin (August 2022).