We get asked about ‘protection Celtic symbols’ a lot, mainly due to misinformation spread online.
Unfortunately, many jewellers and tattoo design websites have invented Celtic protection symbols that they claim were invented by the Celts, but that just isn’t true.
The Celtic Shield Knot (i.e. the Dara Knot) is arguably the only Celtic Knot of protection. Discover its meaning and design below!
Quick need-to-knows about the Celtic Shield Knot
Before we untie the mystery of the most notable protection Celtic symbols, it’s worth taking 20 seconds to read the below, first:
1. A warning
So, if you search online for Celtic protection symbols, you’ll see hundreds of intricate designs. Sadly, the bulk of these are recent inventions, most of which were invented by websites selling tattoo designs and by crafty jewellery companies.
2. Our interpretation
In our opinion, the Celtic Knot for protection is the Dara Knot, which is one of the more notable Celtic symbols (see designs above). This is one of several Celtic Knots and it represents strength and endurance, making it the most likely contender for the Celtic Shield Knot.
3. The King of the Forest
The Dara Knot represents the oak tree, or as the Celts saw it, the King of the Forest, a symbol of strength, wisdom, and endurance. This was a hugely important symbol spiritually speaking and it’s believed that the design represented the roots of an oak tree (see our guide to Celtic strength symbols for more like it).
4. The design
The Celtic symbol for protection is one of the simpler Knots in terms of design. Traditional versions bear some resemblance to the head of a Celtic Cross, or perhaps more accurately, the Sun Cross. There are four distinct quadrants, woven in a way that creates a cross in the middle. As with other Celtic Knots, there’s no start or end point.
Celtic Shield Knot Meaning
The Celtic Shield Knot was largely used to symbolise protection. Its compact design hints at an unbreakable barrier, with a single interwoven thread suggesting endless protection.
The endlessness of the design might have also symbolised rebirth and eternity, hinting at the never-ending cycle of birth, life, death, and rebirth.
Their use in battle
This may well have given a fighting spirit to the Celts, diminishing their fear of death in battle.
Celtic protection symbols were worn into battle on shields and armour. Meanwhile, larger Celtic Shield Knots would be placed on battlefields to demonstrate strength and protection in an attempt to ward off enemies.
The Shield Knot in times of peace
But the Celtic Knot of protection had many uses outside of battle. People needed protection from far more than enemy blades and arrows in those days.
It is widely believed that Shield Knots were given to sick friends and relatives to ward off evil spirits. Very probably for the same reason, Celtic Shield Knots can also be seen carved into tombstones, as well as at religious sites.
Celts are very likely to have hung Celtic protection symbols in their homes as well as a form of protection against bad luck and evil.
Newborn babies may also have been given Shield Knots to offer them protection in their new world. At least until they grew strong enough to fend for themselves.
The Importance of Protection Knots to the Celts
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.
Such symbols of protection would have been enormously important to the Celts, who lived in dangerous, and uncertain times.
War was far more common back then, but that was just one of many things that spelled danger for everyday Celts. Back then, diseases and illnesses that are considered mild today could kill within days.
Famine was another persistent danger, and it only took heavy rain during the harvest or a dry summer to spell doom for hundreds.
So, it’s no wonder that the Celts created protection knots like the Shield Knot to keep themselves, and their community, safe from harm.
FAQs about protection Celtic symbols
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘What Celtic Knot of protection is most accurate?’ to ‘Which ones are fake?’.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
What does Celtic shield knot mean?
This is one of the only Celtic protection symbols and it symbolises strength, endurance and, of course, protection.
What is the Celtic symbol of protection?
As we said above, there are an infinite number of Celtic protection symbols, despite what you see online. In our opinion, the Dara Knot is the only Celtic Knot for protection.
Keith O’Hara has lived in Ireland for 34 years and has spent most of the last 10 years creating what is now The Irish Road Trip guide. Over the years, the website has published thousands of meticulously researched Ireland travel guides, welcoming 30 million+ visitors along the way. In 2022, the Irish Road Trip team published the world’s largest collection of Irish Road Trip itineraries. Keith lives in Dublin with his dog Toby and finds writing in the 3rd person minus craic altogether.