I like the idea of accessories that are also usable. The drinking horn, much like the tankard may be the best example of the usable accessory. A beautifully shaped horn, a drinking vessel beyond compare – I think I may need to invest in this most amazing of accessories.
Normally, I have seen the drinking horns on a rolling stand – kiosk-style – at the Ren faires. I remember the first ones that I ran into were at the GRF. The vendor had a stand, near the beer and mead booths – well placed! He had horns that you could actually blow (go ahead and laugh, I can’t think of a better way to phrase it) and then some you could use for drinking. Simple leather cords were tied into the notches at the tops of the horns so that they could be carried easily. I purchased one of the ones that you would play instead of one of the drinking horns, and to be honest, I love the one I have but I want a drinking horn as well.
A good friend of mine has one. He uses it at faires, at home, really anywhere that he can think about needing a drink. He has had the same one for years, When he is done using it, he rinses it out, washes it down and then lets it dry. Ready to be used the next time mead is called for. He also claims that he gets more mead sometimes if he uses it instead of the plastic cup that they usually serve mead in. I think he is full of crap but it still looks very cool to drink from the horn instead of from the dixie cup.
The first drinking horns are found in history were used by the Thracians and Scythians. Both of these peoples were known for their use of drinking horns. And though the drinking horn was replaced by a clay or metal vessel during the Bronze age, the drinking vessel still held sway in some cultures and especially during ceremonial feasts. The drinking horn migrated north from the Mediterranean and has been found in all the cultures from the Middle East to the Vikings. The Vikings embraced the drinking horn and it figures greatly in their cultures. In fact the drinking horn is mentioned in a poem called Guðrúnarkviða II (thank you wikipedia):
The drinking horns you see at the Ren Faires around the country are made from bovine horns (bull horns). The inside has been ground out and wiped clean. They are perfectly safe to drink out of. You can also get a drinking horn holder for feast times so that you can sit the horn on the table without it falling over and spilling your favorite beverage (spilling the mead is sad). Depending on your costume, the drinking horn can add that speacial touch. If you are going with the Viking look, get an ornate horn and work it. Make your Viking a true warrior with a horn ready to take him into Valhalla.