How The “Epona Trad”, A Universal Celtic Symbol Really Came About


*Note: Yes, I am writing about a Scottish artist on St. Patrick’s Day. The reason?  George Bain is the creator of one of the most famous Celtic art pieces. A section of Ireland was apart of the six Celtic Nations ( Brittany, Cornwall, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and the Isle of Man).  So, I hope you enjoy reading this article!

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One of George Bain’s greeting cards and another design that can be found in Celtic Art: The Methods of Construction

One of the most well known and universal Celtic works is the Epona Trad that can be found on virtually  everything, from T-shirts to ceramics to wall hangings and jewellery. But, how many of you can say you know who created this work of art or, where it originated from? Well, the purpose of this article it to find out that very question. Read on!


Inverurie stone with horse (recumbent stone circle

One Artist, One S)tone

The horse design was originally created by a Pictish artist during the Celtic times as a carving on the Inverurie stone (recumbent stone circle) .

Easter Aquhorthies stone circle wide view.jpg

Artist and author George Bain (who was born in Scotland in 1881 and later died in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1968) incorporated this horse into his famous design. There isn’t a lot of information about how he got the idea to make the “Epona Trad.” He does include his design along with other horse designs in his book “Celtic Art: The Methods of Construction.”  I have this book and it is a wealth of information; it includes hundreds of illustrations, knot work panels, spirals, lettering, zoomorphics, human and animal figures as well. There is hundreds of drawings, with easy-step-by-step instructions for anyone who wants to learn about this age-old art.


About George Bain

George Bain was artist and art teacher who revived the worldwide interest in Celtic art. After leaving school, Bain worked as a printer in Edinburgh. Between the age of 15 and 21, he studied art on a part time basis, attending the School of Applied Art and the Edinburgh School of Art. His first exhibited work as a painter was in 1900 at the Royal Scottish Academy. Two years later, he got a scholarship to the Royal College of Art in London. In 1905, he returned to Edinburgh to continue his career as a commercial artist while studying part time at the Royal Scottish Academy Life School.

Bain was the first artist to analyse and deconstruct the designs found on Pictish sculpture and metalwork, and on illuminated manuscripts such as the Book of Kells and the Lindisfarne Gospels. His book “Celtic Art: The Methods of Construction” was published in 1951. with little impact. IT was only after it’s re-issuing after his death in 1971 that people started to study and learn more about Celtic Knot work, the Pictish stones, the Book of Kells and the Book of Durrow. As well as describing and illustrating over 200 historical examples, he also  gave detailed instructions on creating similar interlaces, spiral, and trumpet designs, and encouraging their use in craft work.


Below are a few examples of the Epona Triad:

Photo From


Thanks for reading and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


Huh? What? Well, I will believe that when I see flying Shetlands !


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