Viking Drinking Horn: Historical or Not?

Posted by Ms Elly on

Viking Drinking Horn: Historical or Not?

Modern depictions of the Vikings seem to be captivated by horns, especially horns in the helmets and horns for drinking. The former use is proved a modern fabrication, stating again: The Vikings didn't wear helmets with horns. Meanwhile, the second use is different. But was Viking Drinking Horn a historical truth? Perhaps it was but it wasn't like what you might have been thinking of. 


Artifacts about Viking drinking horns have been found across the Viking sites, from graveyards to ancient picture stones. The most shining example of pictorial evidence is the depiction of a drinking party painted on stone. This pictorial evidence was found in Gotland dating back to around the 8th century. It depicted all attendees holding drinking horns. 

Image of Viking drinking party on stone

So this means all of the Vikings used drinking horns to drink alcohol? The answer is obviously: NO. From the ancient times to this modern age, pictures have always been to depict the most beautiful sides of people. To elaborate, even if they wear normal clothes every day, but when they want to take a photo of themselves, they are more likely to dress nicely and neatly. This is a reasonable action of psychology: everyone wants themselves to look more impressed. So the Vikings who asked the artists to draw the picture might have wanted their party to be the best and the most impressive.

Image of Viking drinking horn

And in ancient Viking time, only the chieftains might have afforded artists to draw for them. This was also a way to establish and endure their reputation. People of the lower rungs on the social ladders just thought about how to survive through the days. So the thought of drawing lavish party with drinking horns for normal farmers and decent free men was something out of the question. 

The reality was that the Vikings would use whatever available for them to hold the alcohol or drink in general. Viking vessels might have been small cones made from rowan barks. Bowls and goblets were among the most commonly things that the Vikings used to drink. In Viking ancient time, some Vikings could even afford glass chalices which were very rare. 


According to what the historians and scholars believed, Viking drinking horns were among the most expensive and luxurious things in the time. They were the exclusive items to be used on special occasions like ceremonies or rituals. The Vikings found it difficult to obtain a horn because raising animal in Scandinavian would encounter many hardships. Therefore, Viking drinking horns were precious few things in the Viking age. Only the wealthy could afford one. 

This didn't mean decent Vikings couldn't have one drinking horn in their life. The Viking chieftains might have been awarded their great warriors with the drinking horn for their loyalty and achievements. 


The Viking tradition has become an important part of the Viking lovers. Viking drinking horns didn't present wealth and fortune only. They were the symbol of deity connection as well. Odin once used three horns to drink the holy Mead of Poetry. This reasoned the symbol Triple Horns of Odin. Besides, the Viking drinking horn is also a great item to remind us of the Viking ancient time and their greatest warriors feasting and chanting with hands holding the drinking horns. 

Image of Viking drinking horn

Viking Drinking Horn 

Older Post Newer Post

Recent Articles


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published