Although it’s well-known for its appearance in the Book of Kells, the Triquetra has also been found carved onto stones in many parts of Northern Europe.
In the guide below, we break down the Triquetra meaning, its history, where it originated and where it can be seen across the world today.
Table of Contents
What is a Trinity Knot / Triquetra?
Celtic Knots are complete loops with no beginning or end and they were primarily used for decoration in the Celtic style of Insular art.
The History of the Triquetra Symbol / Trinity Symbol
Like many of the ancient Celtic symbols, the exact date of origin of the Trinity Knot is unknown and often the subject of debate both on and offline.
Versions of the Triquetra symbol have been found in many different locations that date back to various different periods of time, include the Iron Age and long before.
It’s widely accepted that the Celtic Trinity Knot is over 5,000 years old. It first appeared in Celtic culture during the 7th century when it was used in Insular art.
The Iron Age
In archaeology, the word ‘Triquetra’ is used to describe any figure that is made up of three arcs. Symbols like the Triskelion would fall under the Triquetra umbrella.
These types of symbols first became popular during the 4th Century BC and were found in ornaments in Anatolia and Persia.
The Triquetra symbol has been found on everything from runestones in Northern Europe to ancient Germany coins.
Appearance in Insular Art
Triquetra designs regularly appeared in Insular art – if you’re unfamiliar with this type of art, it is a style that was produced in Ireland and Britain.
The Trinity Knot can be seen within the covers of the Book of Kells and on some very early versions of the Celtic Cross.
It’s believed that the Trinity Knot meaning in these instances was to represent the Christian Trinity (more on this below).
Triquetra Meaning / Trinity Knot Meaning
Something that tends to confuse people is the Triquetra Meaning vs the Trinity Knot Meaning – there’s no difference.
The Triquetra is simply another name for the Trinity Knot. Other names for the knot are the Celtic Triangle, the Celtic Trinity and the Irish Trinity Knot.
Different meanings for different people
There are many different meanings of the Celtic Trinity Knot. The symbol has been adopted by different groups and faiths to represent something that is core to their belief.
However, one essential meaning runs throughout each interpretation of the Celtic Trinity Knot – the Celtic conviction that everything of significance in the world comes in threes.
Some see the meaning of the Triquetra as symbolizing the three domains of earth, sea and sky. Others say the three points signify the three stages of life: life, death and rebirth.
The Triquetra has also been found at several Celtic archaeological sites along with solar and lunar symbols, so it could have a meaning relating to the lunar and solar phases.
Celtic Knot Meaning for Christians
It’s not hard to see why Christian teaching sees the meaning of the Holy Trinity Knot as representing the three parts of the Holy Trinity: God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Although there are three individual parts to the knot, they are all part of the one symbolic design, one in three and three in one. Early Holy Trinity Knots incorporated the sign of a fish; the symbol of Christian faith.
Sometimes the Celtic Trinity Knot is shown with a circle in the design which emphasizes the meaning of unity and eternity, key principles of the Christian faith.
As with many Celtic knots, the meaning of the Holy Trinity Knot for Christians is symbolized in the continuous line. The knot symbolizes eternal life with the Holy Trinity. Faith, like the line, is eternal and without end.
Triquetra meaning for Wiccans
The meaning of the Triquetra for Wiccans, neo-pagans and other non-Christian groups holds a different symbolic significance. Wiccan beliefs are very close to the earth, bound up in witchcraft and the worship of nature.
They see the three points of the Celtic Triquetra relating to the nature of the Goddess as mother, maiden and crone. The mother represents creation; the maiden represents innocence and the crone symbolizes wisdom.
Modern-day Meaning of the Celtic Triquetra Symbol
The Celtic Triquetra is a truly ageless symbol and it has appeared in several modern TV shows such as Charmed when it appears on the cover of the “Book of Shadows”.
It was also used on the hammer in the movie Thor. The symbol is popular on New Age clothing, CD covers (check out the cover of Led Zeppelin IV) and is a popular modern-day tattoo symbol.
There is no single meaning for the Triquetra which is possibly what has enabled it to endure through the ages.
It can represent whatever you want it to symbolize – true love, eternity, faith, the elements of the earth, or something uniquely personal to you.
Thinking About Getting a Triquetra Tattoo?
If you’re one of the many people that have/or that’s planning on emailing us with a question about a Triquetra tattoo design… chillllll for a second.
We get around 15 of these emails a week and my response to every single one is to 1, read this guide and 2, ensure that you’re very happy with your Trinity Knot design before you have it inked on your skin.
Have a question about this symbol? Pop your question in the comments section below. Make sure to check out our guide to the 15 most popular Celtic Symbols and their meanings.