As an appreciator of Norse culture and mythology, you’ve doubtlessly seen and heard about the drinking horn. The Norse prominently used these neat drinking vessels, which are mentioned prominently in Norse literature such as the Prose Edda and Beowulf. If you want to learn more about what Viking drinking horns symbolized, read on; we explain what you need to know about them below.
Drinking horns were exactly what they sound like: horns that people drank out of. Viking horn fragments are often poorly preserved, but we’ve learned quite a bit from the ones we’ve uncovered. Most Viking drinking horns were made from either goat or domestic cattle horns. They had metal terminals, or decorative caps that covered the top and bottom of the horn. When no one was using them, they were kept in mounts.
So what did the Norse use drinking horns for? What did Viking drinking horns symbolize? In Viking culture, drinking horns were common vessels for beer, wine, and mead. Commonfolk and the rich alike used them, and they were extremely prevalent; most everyone had one of these cups. Interestingly, most Viking horn fragments have been found buried with common women, as they were the ones who served the mead.
But wait—if most drinking horns were buried with regular women, why do we so strongly associate them with warriors? Well, that’s because Norse myths state that the Valkyrie gave fallen warriors drinking horns as gifts upon entering Valhalla. The warriors would bring these horns into Odin’s hall, where they would feast, fight, die, and be resurrected each night for eternity. Sounds awesome!
Another thing to note is that drinking horns also held sentimental value for the Norse, passed down from generation to generation. Family members would add their own decorations and carvings to the horns to leave their mark.
Drinking horns have been around for a long time. The oldest drinking horn ever found is estimated to be over 2,600 years old. But you may wonder where this one-of-a-kind utensil come from and why the Norse used them over more traditional drinking utensils. It’s hard to say, but most experts agree that the reason the Norse used drinking horns was because they placed importance on using every part of a hunted animal. When food was scarce, wastefulness wasn’t good, so the Vikings turned the horns of the hunted animals into vessels of revelry to put all of the animal to good use.
If you want to join in on the revelry, Norse Spirit has Norse drinking horns available for the modern Viking in tumbler, mug, and traditional versions. Shop with us and embrace the Norse Spirit today!