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A Brief History of Drinking Horns

Posted on June 14, 2017 at 11:30 PM

The story of the “Drinking Horn” is a long and fascinating one. Drinking horns have been around for at least 2,600 years but it is possible that they have been around much longer than that. During all this time, the drinking horns have gone from practical drinking horns to symbolic and representations of the hallowed past. They’ve been Made from the likes of Glass, Gold, Silver and Cow or Ox Horns by cultures from all around the world.

The best place to start considering the history of the “drinking Horn” is with the Thracians. In Thrace drinking horns were made from horn or wood and played an important part of life. The Greeks refereed to drinking from a horn as drinking “after the Thracian fashion” The Thracians were the first known culture to challenge each other to Drinking matches!

Thracian Drinking Horn

The Romans took drinking horns and symbolism to a new level by creating glass drinking horns for feasts and ceremonies. To the Romans the Drinking Horn was a symbol of wealth and power. Their popularity spread as did the Roman and eventually made it to the Iron Age Celts and Scandinavians who gave the horn an important role in their mythology and religions.

Speaking of the Celts they were known for their feasting and often setting out huge cauldrons of mead, wine or beer and the guests could fill their drinking horns. Many Celtic Burial sites included metal banded drinking horns as a tribute. Many of the Old Irish Drinking horns were made of Gold with intricate carvings and inlaid handles and are considered works of art.

It is no surprise that the Vikings drank from Drinking horns, both water, milk and Mead. Traces of several horns have been found in Viking Age Burial Mounds, the interesting part is mostly in female graves. Which recalls the mythology of the Valkyries who were the female warriors to would choose men that will die in battle, often depicted of extending the drinking horns to the slain warriors to welcome them to Valhalla. In the real-life extensions of this, women hosts would ceremoniously extend drinking horns to honored guests.

1893, drawing depicting Sif, a Norse Goddess holding a Horn

As we look back into History we can see that it wasn’t just the Vikings that drank from the Drinking horns, they have served many purposes over the centuries and there is no better way that honoring your ancestors by raising your horn in honor!

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