There are eight elementary knots which form the basis of nearly all the interlaced patterns in Celtic decorative art. Two of the elementary knots are derived from a three-cord plait, and the remaining six from a four-cord plait. Before the Christian influence on the Celts (about 450 A.D.), the only known Celtic artwork consisted of geometrical patterns such as spirals, key patterns, and step patterns. It has been suggested that the Celts' religion prevented them from depicting the works of the creator, namely animals, plants, and humans. That is why their artwork is restricted to geometrical patterns.
Celtic knots were used to decorate Bible manuscripts, monuments (notably Celtic crosses and cross slabs) and jewelry. The Book of Kells, a fantastic collection of paintings penned circa 800 A.D. that illuminate the four Gospels in Latin, is the best known source of Celtic knots.