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Image Collection: Basic Knotwork Designs

These are the kind of things I always picture when I think of "Celtic Designs". It's kind of ironic, then, that these motifs appear rather late in the history of Celtic art. As discused in the Knotwork Tutorial Introduction web page, interlacing was probably adapted from northern European or Germanic sources. Of course, the brilliant Insular artists itegrated it into the deep tradition of Celtic art, and so made it (in some way) their own.

You may simply browse the knotwork clip art materials in the categories of Knotwork Borders or Knotwork Tiles.

Knotwork Borders

These images include both horizontal separator "lines" and vertical backgrounds with left-hand borders. Please click on the bordered thumbnails to see the full-size images.

Where possible, the components of the borders are provided. That is, the left edge, the center (middle) repeated section, and the right edge are provided as seperate files. These may be combined to make borders of any size desired.

1.

The borders below use a pattern from Lindisfarne folio 95, Kells folio 124R, and probably other places as well.  I picked it up from [BainI] page 43 originally.  The basic pattern tile looks like:

a. Left: Middle: Right:
b.

c. Left: Middle: Right:
d. Left: Middle: Right:

2.

The following panels use a simple 4-band plait pattern (see the Basic Interlacing Construction section of the Knotwork Construction Class for further information), seen many places in Celtic art, including the Ardagh Broach, the Monymusk Reliquary, and Lindisfarne Folio 13.   I found references to this pattern in [BainG] page 36, and [Meehan2] page 106.   This is the simplest of what [Meehan2] refers to as "spiral knots".   The underlying template for these looks like: .

a.
b. Left: Middle: Right:
c.

d.
e.
f. Left: Middle: Right:

3.

The following panels use a pattern originally from the center section of Lindisfarne folio 27 (and others).  I used the pre-analyzed version from [BainI] page 72.  The basic tile looks like:

The original was blue and yellow on black, doubled.  These border patterns are rendered in "carved stone", "jewelry" tones, and simple color on black.

a.

b.
c. Left: Middle: Right:

4.

The following use a pattern from the Monifieth Stone (see [BainI} page 52-53)--the basic tile looks like:

the original was done with a 3:4 ratio grid while this version is square.  Both borders are rendered as "color on parchment".

a. Left: Middle: Right:

b. Left: Middle: Right:

5.

The following panels use a pattern sometimes called the "Celtic Lover's Knot".  It is also found on the Meigle Stone number 5 (see [BainI] page 104 for an analysis of this pattern).  Thanks to Kathy Marsten who asked about the CLK design and caused me to research and develop the pattern!  The basic tile for this border looks like:

a. Left: Middle: Right:
b. Left: Middle: Right:

c. Left: Middle: Right:
d.

6.

This pattern is found often throughout Lindisfarne, on Folios 13B, 14, and 95 (at least).   I found it analyzed in [BainG] page 40, Plate E upper left.   The basic pattern looks like: .

a. Left: Middle: Right:

b. Left: Middle: Right:

7.

The following pattern is found in a number of original sources, including Lindisfarne Folio 95 (and others), Kells Folios 3R and 4R, and St. Chad's Gospels Folio 221.   The Lindisfarne original used a doubled band, and was colored yellow/red on black.   There are two slight pattern variations, one that simply repeats the following motif: , and one that repeats and inverts the basic pattern, which forms the following repeating tile: .   The borders below use the second variation.

a. Left: Middle: Right:

b. Left: Middle: Right:
c. Left: Middle: Right:

8.

This rather sinuous pattern forms the theme from Lindisfarne folio 11B, and is analyzed in [BainI] page 101.   It is a type of "stepped repeat" of the patterns used in Tiles 27 and 28, and looks like: .

a. Left: Middle: Right:
b. Left: Middle: Right:

c. Left: Middle: Right:
d. Left: Middle: Right:

9.

This tile uses a pattern found in the Durham Gospels AII.10, folio 3V.   I found it pre- analyzed in [BainI] page 104.   The underlying grid template looks like: .

a. Left: Middle: Right:

b. Left: Middle: Right:


Knotwork Tiles:

These images are constructed such that they will "tile" evenly both across and down a web page or Windows background. Some of these will work either as web or Windows backgroundfs, while others are too high contrast for web pages where you need to be able to see the text on top of the background.

1.

I can't find the original for this pattern, but it's based on a simple 1 and 1/2 cell wide pattern (in fact, one of the "foundation knots" analyzed by Romilly Allen in 1883!) turned on it's side.  The pattern is also related to "circular" knots, as on the Nigg Stone.   The basic underlying pattern looks like .  Tiles a. and b. would work better as Win backgrounds, as they're too high contrast for most web pages.  

a.  b.  c.  d.  e. 

2.

These tiles are the first attempts to replicate a pattern I originally found in [BainG] page 32, plate 7.  The original pattern was from Durrow folio 125V, seen in [BainI] page 54.  Embarrassingly, I did it wrong! The underlying tile for this incorrect rendering looks like: , while the real pattern looks like: .  Oh, well...  I added a "mirror image" of the pattern one below the other to get a more interesting texture when tiled.

Tiles 2.a, b and c are rendered using a stone texture, d is rendered in "pressed paper", e and f imitate paint on parchment or vellum, and g is done in "gold wire".  Tiles 2.a-d make decent web page backgrounds, while e-g are better suited for Windows.

a.   b.   c.   d.   e.   f.   g.  

3.

These tiles are the correct version of the pattern I originally found in [BainG] page 32, plate 7, page 53 Plate J, and [BainI] pg. 54.  The original source was Durrow folio 125V, and looks like: .  It is interesting to compare this to a design from the Durham Gospels, shown as: Knotwork Tile 27 , which looks like: .

Tiles 3.a-d use the basic band pattern, while 3.e-g use a "Kells" style band.  For details, see the Line Treatments section from the knotwork tutorial pages.  3.a,b,e and f are rendered in shades of gray, 3.d and g are rendered as "paint on vellum", while 3.c is done in "gold wire".

a.    b.    c.    d.    e.    f.    g.   

4.

These tiles are based on a design pattern used on Lindisfarne folio 27, Kells folio 124R, and other places--one of my favorites, as you can see from the large number of samples!  The basic pattern tile looks like: .  I tried to give the effect of carved stone (a), carved wood (b), gold jewelry (c, k), paint on paper (d, e, g), and simple color (f, h, i, j, l, m) in these tiles. Band styles include basic, "Kells" style, and doubled. For details on band styles, see the Line Treatments section from the knotwork tutorial pages. Tiles 4.a, i, j, l, and m would probably be best suited to low- contrast web page background use.

a.  b.  c.  d.  e.  f.  g.  h.  i.  j.  k.  l.  m. 

5.

These tiles are based on a pattern found in Lindisfarne Folio 27, right side.  It is also similar to one found on the Norham Stone, and has an underlying pattern that looks like or .  Compare with the pattern from Tile 6 below.   I rendered 5.a. in "carved stone" and b. in "gold wire".  Tiles 5.c. and d. are rendered using Lindisfarne-style double interlacing.  For details, see the Line Treatments section from the knotwork tutorial pages.

a.  b.  c.  d. 

6.

These tiles use a (3:4 ratio) pattern originally from the Woodwray Stone, Tayside (see [BainI] page 110); and similar to one on the Nigg Stone (see [BainG] page 49) and also found in Kells Folio 290V.  The underlying tile design looks like: or .

Tiles 6.a-d use simple dark and light shades, (6.c and d use a space-filling variant of the template pattern) and are suitable for web page backgrounds.  Tiles 6.e-h are higher- contrast images, rendered in "copper" and "gold wire" textures, with h. rendered (appropriately) as "carved stone" in the space-filling variant.

a.  b.  c.  d.  e.  f.  g.  h. 

7.

This tile uses a pattern from the Monifieth Stone, Tayside, the Ardagh Broach, and others (see [BainI] page 52-53 and [Meehan2] page 125).   The original was done using a 3:4 ratio grid while this version uses a square grid.  The basic tile structure looks like:

Tile 7.a is done with a "carved stone" texture, while b. uses "paint on parchment".   Tile 7.c is rendered using a "gold thread" color. Tiles 7.c-e use Lindisfarne-style double interlacing.  For details, see the Line Treatments section from the knotwork class pages.

a.  b.  c.  d.  e. 

8.

The original source for this tile is unknown, but I found it in [BainG], pg. 35, Plate 13 LR, and [Meehan2] pages 140, and 141.   [Meehan2] refers to these as "Spiral Knots", as he does the one from the Monifieth Stone above.  The basic tile structure looks like:

The sample tiles using this pattern have been rendered in simple dark and light shades, "carved stone" texture, "paint on parchment", and "gold wire". 8.f-h. are rendered using "doubled knotwork". See the Knotwork Class on Line Treatments for further details...

a.  b.  c.  d.  e.  f.  g.  h.  i.  j.  k. 

9.

These tiles are based on a design from the front of the St. Vigean's Stone number 1, Tayside (see [BainI] page 15 for a picture of the stone).   The basic pattern is:

Tiles 9.a-d are rendered (appropriately) in various "carved stone" textures, while e and f are rendered in "gold wire", g, h, i, k and l are done using dark and light shades. 9.j is intended to represent "embossed paper". Tiles 9.k and l use "doubled knotwork" bands and a space-filling pattern variant.

a.  b.  c.  d.  e.  f.  g.  h.  i.  j.  k.  l. 

10.

These background tiles use a pattern originally from the side of the St. Vigean's Stone number 1, Tayside (see [BainI] page 15 for a picture of the stone).  The basic tile looks like: .

Tiles 10.a-c. use a variant of the pattern that makes it more space-filling.   10.a. and 10.b. are rendered as simple shades of gray, while 10.c. simulates "gold wire".  Tile 10.d. is rendered (appropriately) as "carved stone".  

a.  b.  C.  d. 

11.

These background tiles use a pattern originally from Lindisfarne folio 27 (and others).  I got the original template pre-analyzed from [BainI] page 72.  The basic tile looks like:

Tiles a and d use the original pattern, while the others use a novel variation on this that tiles in a continuous line.  The images are rendered here as dark and light "carved stone" (tiles a-d), simple shades of dark and light (tiles 11.e, f, h, and i), and "gold wire" (tile 10.g). Tiles 10.h and i use "doubled knotwork", which was used in the original design. Doubled knotwork is discussed on the Line Treatments page of the knotwork tutorial section.

a.  b.  c.  d.  e.  f.  g.  h.  i. 

12.

These tiles are based on a pattern originally from the Tarbat Stone, Easter Ross.   I found it analyzed in [BainI] page 111.   It is interesting to compare the underlying pattern from this tile, which looks like: with the pattern from Tile 11 above.   Tiles 12.a, b, d, and e are done using simple shades of gray, while 12.c is rendered as "carved rock". Tiles 12.d and e use "doubled knotwork". This technique is discussed on the Line Treatments page of the knotwork tutorial section.

a.  b.  c.  d.  e. 

13.

The following are based on a pattern of interlocking loops sometimes called the "Celtic Lover's Knot" ([Meehan2] calls this a "Josephine Knot").  It is also found on the Meigle Stone number 5 and also Durrow Folio 8R, (see [BainI] page 104 and [Meehan2] page 36-42 for an analysis of this pattern).  I have transformed the basic CLK design (see the Knotwork Border page, design 6, for the basic pattern, which looks like: ), adapting it to make a space-filling repeating tile.  Thanks to Kathy Marsten who asked about the CLK design and caused me to research and develop the pattern!  The tiles are rendered in simple dark and light colors (11.a, b, c, and d), "pressed paper" (11.e), as "carved stone" (11.f and g), "painted vellum" (11.h), and in "gold wire" (tile 11.i).  Tiles 11.a through 11.g would all (I think) make decent, low-contrast, web page backgrounds.

a.  b.  c.  d.  e.  f.  g.  h.  i. 

14.

These tiles are based on patterns found in Durrow, Folio 86R.   The pattern, which basically looks like: ,is analyzed in [BainI], page 104.   It is very similar to the "Celtic Lover's Knot" seen above.

Tile 14.a. and b. are done using simple shades of gray, while 14.c (using a space-filling variant) is rendered as "gold wire".

a.  b.  c. 

15.

The following tiles are based on a pattern from the Book of Durrow Folio 125V (Plate 6).   See [BainG] page 52-53 and [BainI] page 82-83 to see it in context.  The basic pattern looks like: .

I've rendered these as "carved rock" (tile a), "carved wood" (tile b), "gold wire" (tile c) and paint on parchment (tile d).

a.  b.  c.  d. 

16.

These background tiles are based on a pattern found in the Book of Kells folio 114V.   See [BainI] page 107 for an analysis of this knot pattern.  The "raw" tile pattern looks like: .

The tiles below are rendered as dark or light shades (16.a-d), "paint on vellum" (16.e, f), and "gold wire" (16.g).

a.  b.  c.  d.  e.  f.  g. 

17.

This pattern was originally found in Kells, Folio 114V, but appears other places as well.   I found it in [BainI] page 108.   The basic pattern looks like: .

Tiles 17.a-d are done in shades of dark and light gray, and would be suitable for web page backgrounds.   17.e-g are done simulating ink or paint on paper.   17.d. uses a "Kells-style" band treatment, and 17.c, d and g use doubled knotwork. All these are described in the Line Treatments section of the knotwork tutorial pages.

a.  b.  c.  d.  e.  f.  g. 

18.

The underlying pattern for these tiles is similar to the one in Tile 17 above, and looks like: .   It's originally from the Maiden Stone, Aberdeenshire, with an analysis found in [BainI], page 106.   Note that [BainI] also refers to this as a "double Stafford knot".

The tiles are rendered in simple gray-scale, "carved stone", and "gold wire".   Tiles 18.f-h. use non-square "Pictish" grids.   Non-square grids are covered in the Alternative Grids section of the knotwork tutorial pages.

a.  b.  c.  d.  e.  f.  g.  h. 

19.

The original pattern for these tiles can be found in the Book of Lindisfarne, folio 210.   I found it pre-analyzed in [BainI], page 106.   The basic version of this looks like: .   It is interesting to compare this with the two above, as they have a similar underlying cell structure.

The tiles from this pattern are all presented in shades of gray (except for 19.e, which is rendered as "gold wire") and should make good, low-contrast, web backgrounds.   Tiles a. and b. use the basic pattern, while c. and d. use the doubled version of the pattern, common in Lindisfarne.   Doubling techniques are discussed in the Line Treatments section of the knotwork tutorial pages.

a.  b.  c.  d.  e. 

20.

This simple 3-cell design forms the underlying knotwork pattern on the large capital T from Kells folio 124R.   I found it described in [BainI], page 49.   The "raw" pattern looks like: .   It is structurally related to the "Celtic Lover's Knot" pattern (see the Knotwork Tiles (2) page) as well as to Tile 21 below.

Tiles a.-d. are rendered in simple gray-shades (a. and b. use the basic pattern, c. and d. use a space- filling variation), and are suitable for web-page backgrounds.   Tile 20.e is rendered as "gold wire" and 20.e as "beaten gold".

a.  b.  c.  d.  e.  f. 

21.

These tiles use a pattern related to Tile 20 above.   It is found in Kells Folios 2V (the "cross theme"), 129V, and 290V, as well as in Lindisfarne Folio 210B.   I found it analyzed in [BainI] pages 105 and 107.   The base pattern looks like: .

Tiles 21.a.-d. are rendered using shades of gray, while 21.e. is rendered as "paint on parchment" and 21.f as "gold wire".   21.c. and d. are doubled versions of the basic design, while 21.e. uses a "Kells"-style band design.   Doubling and other band decoration techniques are discussed in the Line Treatments section of the knotwork tutorial pages.

a.  b.  c.  d.  e.  f. 

22.

This design is found in many original sources, including the Ardagh Broach, the Monymusk Reliquary, and Lindisfarne Folio 13.   I found references to this pattern in [BainG] page 36, and [Meehan2] page 106.   This is the simplest of what [Meehan2] refers to as "spiral knots", so it is also related to Tiles 7 and 8 on the Knotwork Tiles (1) page.   The underlying template for these looks like: .

Tiles 22.a.-d. and g.-j. are rendered using shades of gray.   Tiles c., d., i. and j. use a doubled version of the basic pattern.   Tile 22.e and f. are rendered as "gold wire" in reference to the design's original jewelry origins; Tiles g. and h. use a single-double combination style.

a.  b.  c.  d.  e.  f.  g.  h.  i.  j. 

23.

This interesting pattern (related to Tile 22 above) is found in Lindisfarne Folio 13, Kells Folio 3R (theme of the right hand column), and on the Leek Stone, Staffordshire.   I found it analyzed in [BainG] page 27, and [BainI] page 102.   The underlying pattern looks like: .

Tiles 23.a.-d. are rendered in simple shades of gray.   Tiles a. and b. use the basic pattern, c. uses narrow bands, and d. uses double bands.   Tiles e. and f. are rendered as "carved rock" to recognize their origins.   All except f. are probably low-contrast enough to use as web page backgrounds...

a.  b.  c.  d.  e.  f. 

24.

This pattern is related to Tile 23 (their underlying grids are quite similar).   It is found often through Lindisfarne, on Folios 13B, 14, and 95 (at least).   I found it analyzed in [BainG] page 40, Plate E upper left.   The basic pattern looks like: .

Tiles 24.a-f are rendered using shades of gray, and are suitable for web backgrounds.   Tiles 24.b and c use doubled bands, which were also used in the original Lindisfarne versions. Tile 24.f is rendered using "gold wire".

a.  b.  c.  d.  e.  f. 

25.

The following pattern is found in a number of original sources, including Lindisfarne Folio 95 (and others), Kells Folios 3R and 4R, and St. Chad's Gospels Folio 221.   The Lindisfarne original used a doubled band, and was colored yellow/red on black.   There are two slight pattern variations, one that simply repeats the following motif: , and one that repeats and inverts part of the basic pattern, which forms the following repeating tile: .  

The clip-art tiles in this series use both variations of the basic motif.   Tiles 25.a-g are done in shades of gray, and are suited for use as web page backgrounds.   Tile 25.h is rendered as "paint on parchment" and 25.i as "gold wire".

a.  b.  c.  d.  e.  f.  g.  h.  i. 

26.

Tile 26 uses a pattern from Lindisfarne, folios 94B and 95, plus Durrow, and probably others.   It can be found pre-analyzed in [BainI] pages 21 and 101.   The basic tile pattern looks like: .

Tiles 26.a-f use shades of gray, and should work well as low-contrast web backgrounds.   Tiles 26.g and h are two versions rendered as "paint on parchment".

a.  b.  c.  d.  e.  e.  g.  h. 

27.

This tile uses a pattern found in the Durham Gospels AII.10, folio 3V.   I found it pre- analyzed in [BainI] page 104.   The underlying grid template is similar to that used in Tile 26 above, and looks like: .

The tiles below use this pattern, and are rendered as shades of gray and "gold wire". Tiles 27.d-g. use "doubled" bands. For details on doubled knotwork, please see the Line Treatments section from the knotwork tutorial pages.

a.   b.   c.   d.    e.    f.    g.    h.   

28.

This rather sinuous pattern forms the theme from Lindisfarne folio 11B, and is analysed in [BainI] page 101.   It is a type of "stepped repeat" of the patterns used in Tiles 26 and 27, and looks like: .

Tiles in this series all use simple gray shaded treatments.   Tiles 28.e. and f. use a doubled knotwork band, as did the original Lindisfarne version. 2.8g and h use a wide band effect. For details on doubled knotwork and other band treatments, please see the Line Treatments section from the knotwork tutorial pages.

a.  b.  c.  d.  e.  f.  g.  h.  i.  i. 

29.

This interesting pattern is another taken from the Book of Durrow; in this case the original source is not further identified. It is analysed both in [Meehan2] pg. 148 and [BainG] pg. 33, and looks like: .

Tiles in this series all use simple gray shaded treatments. Tiles 29.a,b differ from 29.c,d by virtue of different band widths (narrow and wide). The difference is subtle visually (particularly at this scale), but is there. Tiles 29.e,f use doubled bands. For details on doubled knotwork and other band treatments, please see the Line Treatments section from the knotwork tutorial pages.

a.    b.    c.    d.    e.    f.   

30.

This "chained" pattern is found in Durrow, on the "Eagle Evangelist" page, Folio 94R. It forms the border around the central eagle. I have not seen it pre- analyzed, but took this one from an image of the page. The original was colored red and yellow in a kind of triangular pattern. The basic form looks like: .

Tiles made from this pattern include the basic form of the pattern (in 30.a and 30.b) colored in shades of gray. Also included are a space-filling version of the template, rendered in shades of gray (30.c. and d.), as "gold wire" (30.e), and with a try at the original red and yellow pattern (30.f).

a.   b.   c.   d.   e.   f.  

31.

These tiles were taken from a pattern found on the Great Wheel-Cross of Corbelin, Margam Abbey, Glamorganshire. I found it pictured in [Allen], pg. 187. It is kind of a "Celtic Lover's Knot" pattern (see Knotwork Tiles 2, Tile 13) on it's side (especially in the space filling variation), or a "Kells 124R" pattern (see Knotwork Tiles 3, Tile 20) with extra walls. The basic pattern looks like:

The tiles below show the basic pattern modified to be space-filling, rendered in shades of gray (31.a, 31.b), and "paint on vellum" (31.c).

a.   b.   c.  

32.

This interesting 2 and 1/2 cell pattern is based on one from the front of the carved Lärbro Stone (1), Gotland (Sweden). The carving is dated 8th century, and is of Viking origin. The basic pattern looks like: . I found it in [JonesG] (Gwyn Jones, A History of the Vikings, 1984) pg. 343; also Plate 13, and developed the underlying cell pattern using the techniques found in the tutorial page: Knotwork Analysis.

Tiles 31.a-31.d use the basic pattern above, and are rendered in shades of gray (31.a, 31.b), "gold wire" (31.c), and "paint on vellum" (31.d). Tile 31.e uses doubled knotwork, in shades of gray. For details on doubled knotwork and other band treatments, please see the Line Treatments section from the knotwork tutorial pages.

a.   b.   c.   d.   e.  


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