CELTIC CROSSES - HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
The Celts once dominated the whole of the European continent, but successive invaders pushed them back to the western seaboard of Scotland, Ireland, Brittany, Cornwall and Wales. They left no written record of their culture, but their traditions were passed down through the generations by language, poetry and heroic legends until finally recorded in writing, centuries later. The cultural heritage of their art is preserved in the artefacts which still survive and the Celtic spirit is still strong in these places. Wales is the strongest of the old Celtic languages, and indeed in some areas is the first language spoken. It is in one of these villages that this beautiful collection of jewellery is designed and produced. (Should you choose to buy something, you will find included a description of the article - significance, origin etc.- written in both English and Welsh!).
Just as the Celts drew inspiration from their surroundings, so these designs are based on traditional Celtic motifs found in the region. Christianity was embraced wholeheartedly so that in the period from the 8th to the 11th century it was a golden age for Celtic Christian art. Carved stone crosses and the elaborate illustrated Gospels of the great monastic colleges were richly decorated (eg. The Book of Kells in Ireland). The work of the artist monks was regarded as a form of worship, often involving a lifetime of religious devotion. While the rest of Britain was still in what is known as the "Dark Ages", the monasteries were not only religious refuges but highly sophisticated centres of education and political power. It was here that what remained of the Celtic heritage of Britain and Ireland was for the first time recorded for posterity in writing.
Celtic Crosses are found in all shapes and sizes, in ancient churchyards, on pathways, cross roads and mountainsides throughout the Celtic countries. The earliest date back as far as the 6th century and consist of crudely incised cross shapes on standing stones. These standing stones had often been regarded as holy by the druids and were Christianised by modifying the shape of the stone or carving a cross on its surface. These ancient stone crosses are still very much sacred stones today and many are believed to have healing properties. The circles included in some of the cross designs are said by some to represent 'eternity'.
The Breton Cross
The Welsh Cross
The St Patrick Cross
The St Cadfan Cross
The St David Cross
The Strata Florida Cross
The Langyfelach Cross