Drinking Horn History

Learn where traditional drinking horns originated from and how they have evolved over the years.

The Iconic Drinking Horn Evolution

Do you enjoy savouring your wine, beer or other beverage from a drinking horn? If so, you now form part of a legacy of drinking horn lovers that started ages ago.

Since historical times, mankind has lived off the land. Harvesting crops and farming animals for their strength and culinary needs. Traditionally both meat and milk have come from hunted and reared animals.

At the same time, people used anything they felt apt as vessels for drinking the many beverages available at the time. In the middle ages beverages included mead, ale, wine or milk.

As such, the traditional drinking horn came into existence millennia ago during these old ages, when mankind utilised every part of an animal they hunted or reared.

The users of drinking horns include Greek Gods and kings, Norse Seafarers, Vikings and beyond. As a result drinking horns have been an important part of various historical cultures.

Let’s now explore the finer details of the drinking horn’s history that led to the moments you and every other modern day drinking horn lover can appreciate.

With every sip of your drink from your own unique drinking horn, consider the long and arduous past that has lead to the creation you can now hold in your hand.

Drinking Horn History from Mythical to Medieval & Modern Times

Drinking horns, or horns of a bovid used as drinking vessels, have been around for longer than we can imagine. But how long exactly? Officially they date back to the classical era which began in 8th-7th century BC.

Back in those times it was common for the user to fill the drinking horn with a beverage and consume it from a hole in the pointy end. Over the years the hole was more commonly sealed and the drink was consumed from the larger rim end.

Starting in the classical era, drinking horn usage remained through the medieval ages, and evolved through to the modern day.

Over the millennia, civilizations across the globe have made drinking horns from a variety of other materials too, not just the horns from cattle and other bovid mammals.

These include clay, metal, glass, wood and ceramics. Although drinking horns appear in different cultures, they are closely associated with Scandinavians, Greeks, and Romans.


The Scythians were one of the biggest drinking horn lovers and quite possibly the first. They were a nomadic tribe who had their empires spread through various parts of Russia, Persia, Europe, and India.

The Scythian culture believed that drinking horns were given by Gods to their rulers. Various drinking horns made of precious metal or decorated with metal fittings have been excavated from Scythian graves, especially tombs of their warriors.

Greeks and Romans

The Greek culture saw drinking horns associated with Dionysus, the Greek god of wine. Since drinking horns were widely used as wine drinking vessels, ancient art depictions portray Dionysus holding a drinking horn.

Romans also played a great role in the evolution of these drinking vessels. They used beautiful horns made of glass for feasts and ceremonies. Romans viewed these drinking vessels as a symbol of prosperity.

The Viking Age & Norse Seafarers

Another culture widely associated with drinking horn usage are the Vikings.

The age of Vikings holds many mythical tales of myth and legend. What some may choose to believe these legends, there seems to be more truth around the history speaks of brutal Viking conduct.

The Viking Age which spans from 8th-Mid 11th (AD) saw Norseman explore Europe by sea and rivers. They did so for trade, raids, colonisation and conquest. 

An interesting fact is that during this timeframe many Viking drinking horns have been recovered from female graves.

Medieval to Modern-Day

As time passed, Medieval drinking horns extended their reach to Europe. Here, they were considered a symbol of wealth and prosperity.

From the Medieval to the early modern age, drinking horns were purely used for ceremonies and gifting purposes.

The old Norse culture has fascinated people across the world. The credit for the recent popularity of modern drinking horns goes to the various shows and characters depicting the Viking culture as seen in the Game of Thrones and Vikings Television series.

Today, you can find various types of drinking horns. Spanning from authentic and lavishly decorated to those made from different materials and in different shapes.

With a long drinking horn history attached to these vessels, drinking from a horn is a unique experience in itself.

If you have been fascinated by any of these cultures, then a drinking horn is a must have for your own precious collection.

Choose Drinking Horns From Various Materials