The historical background for the development of Celtic font was formed approximately in the 6-7th centuries after the introduction of Christianity in Ireland. Being most popular between years 600 and 800, Celtic scripts were still in use up to the 19th century. It is interesting to note, that from the territory of Ireland and Britain Celtic fonts were also brought to the continental Europe by Irish missioners, where these ancient writing techniques were used in books and illuminated manuscripts.
The first Celtic font examples were related to the so-called insular scripts. The latter in their turn were derived from uncial (all text is written with capital letters) and half uncial scripts. The characteristic feature of the insular scripts is the use of a large initial letter at the beginning of a text, section, or paragraph, followed by text lines in the size gradually decreasing until the regular size is reached (this is called a diminuendo effect). In addition to being of impressive size, the initial letter was usually embellished with multiple decorative elements and ornaments.
Another key feature of ancient Celtic scripts is the use of triangular tops in the ascender elements of the letters, such as b, d, h, etc. This technique is often used by modern Celtic font designers. For example, have a look at Stonehenge Regular or Thomson Uncial to see how ancient writing traditions are reproduced by modern means and technologies.
The bows of the letters in the ancient insular scripts were usually very wide. This peculiarity was successfully reconstructed in such Celtic font projects as Umber, ElectrUnciale, PR Uncial Alternate Capitals.
Today Celtic font popularity still remains high among the enthusiasts, who value ancient traditions and legacy. Nowadays, the examples of uncial alphabet can still be found on road signs and public notices around Ireland. No wonder that Celtic typefaces are often chosen for specific digital art applications, as web site or logo designs. To find more Celtic fonts and download them for free, visit Fonts2u, online free font repository, which hosts thousands of fonts in dozens of categories.