Although the species of several of the birds in Celtic artwork are not readily identified, the peacock is a pleasant exception. In theBook of Kells, the portrait of Christ shows a peacock on either side of his head. Their feet are intertwined with vines and grapes which grow from two chalices, all early Christian symbols associated with Christ.
The peacock, in particular, represented the solar disc (from the way it spreads its tail in the shape of a wheel) and also a starry sky (from the pattern in the tail feathers), hence immortality. When shown with Christ, they are particularly representative of the eucharist and the incorruptibility of Christ’s body and, by extension, the human soul. More generally in later Christian artwork, it was not unusual to see the peacock in the stable of Christ’s Nativity. There was even an ancient superstition that the blood of the peacock would dispel evil spirits and that eating its flesh could restore good health.