5 things you probably didn’t know about the Celtic Cross

According to legend, the Celtic Cross was first introduced by St. Patrick when he was trying to convert pagans to Christianity. He brought together the Christian cross with the pagan sun which helped give followers the idea of the importance of the cross. Today, the cross is synonymous with Ireland and religion – but how much did you know about it? We’ve rounded up some interesting facts that might just change the way you think about the Celtic Cross…

The first crosses were carved into the rock

 

Today, you’ll find Celtic crosses across Ireland and indeed in other parts of the world – more often than not, they’re used in churchyards and are carved out of rock, standing proudly in their surroundings. But the first rocks were actually carved into the rock, rather than carved out of the rock – an example of this can be found at the Gallarus Oratory in County Kerry and the Killaghtee Cross at in Dunkineely in County Donegal. Such stones reportedly date back to around 650 AD, a huge feat of craftsmanship and a reminder of our short time on Earth.

Crosses were erected to memorialized famous people

 

Though today Celtic crosses serve as symbols of religion and Irish tradition, they were first used to remember famous people who had passed. As time went on, these crosses were then decorated with panels, which depicted biblical scenes – the monks used these as their instructions. You’ll find a stunning example of this at the monastery at Clonmacnoise.

Crosses serve as compasses

 

According to some historians, the Celtic Cross was designed to represent the meeting place of divine energies and serves as a compass. Its purpose, therefore, was to give people spiritual navigation during their time of need. Humans are fascinated with life itself, and the mysteries that surround it. The arms of the cross offer four different ways to ascension.

Celtic crosses became headstones in the 19th century

 

In the latter half of the nineteenth century, citizens began using Celtic crosses as headstones and today they’re still a popular choice in Ireland. Visit any burial ground in the country and you will find them – and not just in Ireland. Scotland, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and the United States all have citizens from Ireland, and as such, crosses are commonly found there in graveyards, too. See if you can spot one next time you’re visiting a church or yard.

They marked boundaries

 

As well as religious and Celtic symbolism, the crosses were also placed outside of monastic settlements to mark boundaries. At the time, the crosses were known as Termon crosses, designed to help citizens “claim” land. Examples of such can still be found in Irish museums.

Which of these things did you find interesting? Let us know and check back soon for more.

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