Celtic Cross symbol
c. 1920 —

Celtic Cross


The Celtic cross is a traditional Christian symbol associated with the monastic tradition in Ireland and of medieval Gaelic Christianity. Since the early 20th century, it has been misappropriated by a number of extremist groups as a symbol of white ethnic pride. The symbol's meaning is context dependent as it is still extensively used as a signifier of Irish tradition devoid of any racist or white supremacist connotations.1


Despite its association with a non-Germanic Catholic tradition, the aggressively Protestant Ku Klux Klan, the German Faith Movement, and the Nazi Party adopted the Celtic cross as a symbol of Nordic purity. Later in the 20th Century the symbol was adopted by a number of neo-Nazi groups, most notably by the influential online far-right forum Stormfront.2


As with earlier use of the symbol by far-right groups, current use is often an attempt to articulate a constructed ‘white’ pseudo-tradition. The Celtic cross forms part of a wider visual language of white nationalism that includes an incoherent and historically ignorant network of symbols influenced by Nordic, Celtic, pagan, Christian and Nazi iconography.3


The version of the cross used by the far-right is often less elaborate than traditional Celtic crosses and generally dispenses with the interlace pattern associated with Insular art. It is also common to see the symbol displayed on a black background or integrated with other Nazi iconography.

Celtic cross with Interlace pattern
Sun wheel symbol of the Nordic Realm Party
Coptic Christian 'ringed cross'