How to Make a Viking Drinking Horn

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While the truth of the iconic horned helms of the Vikings is still debated, the archaeological record does reveal widespread use of drinking horns. A few examples survive, made from goats or aurochs, but they were most commonly fashioned from the horns of domestic cattle. The typical Viking drinking horn included metal mounts around the drinking lip and pointed tip and held around half a liter of beverage. Create your own drinking horn to accessorize your authentic Viking gear or for the satisfaction of having a unique and historical drinking vessel.

Things You'll Need

  • Hollow horn
  • Varnish
  • Emery paper
  • Sandpaper
  • Dremel or wood-working tools
  • Select a clean, hollow horn, considering its size, weight, thickness and shape. Drinking from the horn will be easier if the tip points upwards relative to where you anticipate drinking from. Horns can commonly be found at a taxidermist, leather supply store or purchased online. If using a fresh horn, you'll need to hollow out the core yourself.

  • Roughen the inside surface of the horn with emery paper so the varnish adheres better to the horn.

  • Apply a varnish, such as spar urethane, to the inside of the horn. This can be found in paint, hardware and marine supply stores. Pour varnish into the horn, turning it to coat all of the inside surface.

  • Turn the horn upside down and allow it to dry completely somewhere warm. Repeat the process three or four times to complete the lining.

  • Smooth the outer surface of the horn with sandpaper if it's not already polished. Achieve a shiny, polished finish by using increasingly finer grades of sandpaper before applying jeweler's rouge or other polishing compound. You can also sand it to a matte finish or leave the horn plain.

  • Carve decorations onto the horn with a Dremel, wood-working tools or any sharp object you are comfortable with. Traditional Viking imagery included stylized animals and knotted geometrical designs. Fill in the carvings with acrylic paint or ink, or leave them as is.

Tips & Warnings

  • If using varnish, make sure it is non-toxic, as some beverages may dissolve parts of the lining and it could potentially mix in with your drink. Many horners don't use varnish at all, so if drinking from the raw horn surface doesn't bother you, consider skipping that step.

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