Sep 15, 2010

Hair and the Celts

I knew that hair and good grooming were important to the ancient Celtic people, but I discovered a few things recently that I didn't know.

Did you know that someone with dark hair symbolizes some kind of terrestrial strength? I have no idea what that means, but it certainly sparks the imagination.

Someone with blond hair was thought to have a close connection with God. Maybe subconsciously that is why in my novel, Brigid of Ireland, I chose to give Brigid blond hair. Lots of people have thought of her as a redhead (including the illustrator who had to change his first draft of the cover.)

Redheaded people are thought to possess magical abilities. In the Book of Kells, Jesus and some of the disciples are depicted as blonds with red beards.

I have blogged before about tonsures and the fact that the Irish monks wore theirs more like the druids' rather than like the western monks'. I blogged recently about the synod at Whitby in 664 and how that forced Celtic Christianity into some conformity. The tonsure was part of that and eventually the Irish monks adopted the Roman tonsure, which is said to represent the crown of thorns.

Both men and women wore their hair braided and sometimes curled, with gold balls tied at the ends. I'm not sure I understand where this obsession with hair came from, but now I know I can blame my own worry over bad hair on my ancestors!


  1. My Scottish clan (MacMillan) basically translates the Son of the Tonsure One in the order of St John of celtic origin (of Gilchrist) rather than of Roman influenced who linked to St Peter. It remains one of the ecclesiastical clans of Alba. I have yet to follow in the celtic tonsure. :-)

  2. What an interesting post, Cindy. Congrats on your new book! I suppose I am one in between. As Brigid is my patron saint, I've always imagined her to have a strawberry-blonde mane.

  3. Never say never, Andy! ;-)
    Amy, I don't have a new book out, but they are all still in print as of now!
    Thanks for dropping by and commenting!

  4. This was interesting. I have dark brown hair.