Enjoy our exclusive Viking Drinking Horns Collection
Surrounded by large bodies of water, the Viking must always have something to drink with him. No doubt that with a quality drinking horn, you will feel like a real warrior.
In our store, you can find our selection of Viking drinking horns. Manufactured with great care by our craftsmen, they can receive any kind of liquid and are suitable for consumption. What to hydrate you with class! Polished on the outside, our products are available in several volumes to suit everyone.
Hand-carved, the Viking horn is a unique object. It will also be an essential part of your Viking accessories collection.
And to take it everywhere with you, don’t hesitate to discover our horn holder offer. Your container will be able to stand in your kitchen or your living room. The belt holder allows you to take it everywhere, like a gourd.
An essential object of the Viking culture, the drinking horn is not only a simple container for drinking. It is a real emblem for the Nordic families. Present in banquets, it is a true symbol of social status. Today present in museums, the drinking horn has a place in art.
The drinking horn: an ancient container
It is necessary to go up with prehistory to have the first trace of a horn to drink. It was thus represented on the Venus of Laussel. It is a chalk statuette carved 25 000 years ago in France. Although it is difficult to state with certainty that it was only intended for drinking, as it was used for gathering, the woman seems to be making the gesture of bringing a container to her mouth.
This first use of the drinking horn thus dates back to the Bronze Age period. The Hochdorf burial site, which was examined in 1979, showed the remains of nine horns decorated with bronze and gold scrolls. Glass horns also existed from the Rhine Valley to Scandinavia.
The drinking horn, made of ceramic or metal, was also present during antiquity. The Greeks called it rhyton.
History and fabrics
Corne en or de Gallehus datée du Vème siècle, Danemark
The history of the Viking drinking horn does not end there. During the classical antiquity, the regions of the Balkans and Thrace use it particularly. It remains present during the Middle Ages. It is at this time that the Vikings will carry out their raids in all Europe. Today, the drinking horn is still an essential accessory of a ritual in the Georgian culture, in which it is called kantsi.
In the Viking culture, alcoholic beverages have an important place. And what better way to drink your favorite beverage than with an animal horn?
Beer was the most common drink. The climate being particular, the culture of cereals was difficult. The basic one was therefore barley, which explains the popularity of beer. But the oldest drink on this part of the globe is mead. Made from water and honey, the Vikings used beehives which were then domes of rolled straw.
To drink this, the Vikings used their famous drinking horns. The most basic form was made of rolled birch or mountain ash bark. The bark was then polished so that it was safe to drink the liquid.
But this form of drinking horn was rarely used. Most often, the Vikings used the horns of domestic cattle. Among these were aurochs, a species now extinct. With a height at the withers ranging from 1.20 to 1.50 m, their horns measured about 50 cm. It is therefore obvious that the Nordic inhabitants used them for drinking. Goat horns were also commonly seized. To use them, the Vikings carefully polished them several times.
Before that, it was necessary to make sure that the inside of the horn could hold a liquid, which had to be exclusively cold. A horn consists of a bony base called a horn, which is covered with keratin. The development of this keratin envelope takes place through a thin layer of organic tissue. But when the animal is dead, this skin will then dry out, allowing the separation of the horn from the rest of the horn. Once the interior is cleaned and the mouthpiece polished, it can be used to moisturize.
As this people appreciated beautiful decorations, the drinking horns were decorated with precious metals and/or goldsmiths at the mouthpiece and at the tip.
Significance in society
In Scandinavia, the most sought-after fermented drink was wine. It was therefore quite expensive. As mentioned before, beer is the most common drink. It was drunk every day, even by children, especially in densely populated areas. But the Viking people were aware of the dangers of drunkenness.
These drinks were therefore consumed in drinking horns. These were reserved for special occasions, ceremonies and rituals. The alcohol offered in a horn was then a mark of social status. The English novel “King Horn”, from that time, proves it. In it, during a wedding, the daughter of a king carries a horn to drink to all his guests. But she is accosted by a man she thinks is a beggar. The girl then gives him a drink from a large bowl, which is more appropriate to his situation. This proves that drinking horns were meant for those of high social status.
Beer was therefore heavily consumed during rituals, religious and seasonal festivals. Three were celebrated: one was after the grain harvest, the second during winter and the last during summer.
The drinking horn was an important symbol for the Scandinavian people. It was passed down from generation to generation in Viking families. The vessel could therefore be seen as a kind of emblem.
The importance of the drinking horn in Viking society can be seen in the uses to which it was put. Indeed, the horn of the animal was not only used to drink alcohol and water.
The foghorn was an object strongly used during conflicts. It was used to warn of the presence of enemies nearby. During large battles, such as those made by the Grand Army during its invasion of England, it was customary to start by blowing the foghorn. The foghorn was hollow and did not have a closed tip.
However, contrary to what one might think, the horned helmet was never worn by the Vikings during battle. This is an image that appeared in the 19th century. Viking warriors wore a simple leather cap for the lucky ones. The others had no protection on their heads.
The place of the horn in the Nordic divinity
If the horn is so important to the Vikings, it is that there is necessarily a reason. Several divine personalities are notably linked to the horns in the Nordic divinity, starting with Odin.
God of war and poetry, he is symbolized by three drinking horns that intertwine. They symbolize respectively wisdom, inspiration and eloquence. The divine drink called Blood of Kvasir is notably present in these horns. It would be the basis of the honey-based drink seen earlier, mead, made by the dwarves Fjalar and Galar.
As we know, Valhalla had a capital importance in the Viking society. When warriors died in battle, they were sent there to start a new life. And how were they welcomed there? The warriors were given a drinking horn upon arrival. The drinking horn also represented pleasure and rejoicing, as arriving in Valhalla was considered an honor.
What about art?
An important object in their daily lives, the drinking horn was also represented in art. The symbol of Odin is a starting point. Various objects such as rings and necklaces have the presence of horns as decoration.
The Bayeux tapestry is an embroidery dating from the 11th century. It tells the story of the conquest of England, then led by Harold Godwinson, who has Danish origins. He will lose against William the Conqueror, then Duke of Normandy. During a banquet, a scene shows characters holding beer horns.
The drinking vessel is also present in literary works from the Viking Age. The Edda tells that Thor drank from a horn that contained all the seas. Unknowingly, and drinking a large part of the sea, he frightened Utgard-Loki (king of the giants) and his relatives.
Many drinking horns dating from the Viking era have been found. Many are still present in Sweden or Norway and are exhibited. A very beautiful model can be seen in the Nordiska Museum in Stockholm. Made from animal horn, it is decorated with beautiful ornaments on the mouthpiece and tip. A support made of the same material and resembling a paw completes this drinking horn.
The interest in the Viking vessel shows that the Nordic people attached great importance to this horn. The craftsmen who made them were respected and frequently sought after.
How to maintain your drinking horn?
This brings us to an important point. Like any other drinking vessel, the horn must be maintained. Without doing so, it will gradually harbor bacteria and impurities. Its condition can also deteriorate.
There are three possibilities. First, you can do nothing. The horn can sometimes give off a strong odor. But since you are as strong as a Viking, you decide to do nothing and let the smell go away on its own. It will fade over the months after repeated use of various beverages like beer or wine. If you want to get the smell out faster, you can use white vinegar. But the horn will then smell like white vinegar.
Another solution to clean your Viking drinking horn is to use food glaze. You must then coat the inside of it with an aerosol. With the shape of the horn, there may be some places that are inaccessible. In this case, refer to the first possibility, or to the following one.
The latter solution has been used since the Middle Ages. This is how the Vikings cleaned their containers and kept them for long periods. However, beeswax has some disadvantages. It is necessary to find a natural, 100% pure, cleaned and purified beeswax. It must then be heated to 122°F so that it can melt. The next step is to pour it into the horn and coat the entire inner surface with a thickness of less than 1mm. When the liquid cools, a pleasant honey smell and amber color will fill the horn. For proper maintenance, the operation should be repeated once a year or every two years.
Other solutions also work. But you must be careful not to use any product that is dangerous to your health. Keep in mind that drinking horn gets better with time. It only fears heat. So no hot drinks or dishwashers. By respecting this, you can enjoy the drinks you like. And finally, skoll!