The Hochdorf Drinking Horn: Mead Vessel of a Celtic Prince

A very long time ago, a Celtic prince who could tie one on with the best of them died in Hochdorf, a region that is now part of Germany. He was laid to rest with an exceptional amount of valuables including some sweet gold shoes, 100 gallons of mead, and 9 drinking horns (so he can throw an epic rager in the afterlife, of course). 2500 years later in 1978, an amateur archaeologist stumbled upon the tomb, which ended up being one of the most significant bronze age finds EVER. Guess he wasn’t much of an amateur after that.

There were nine total drinking horns buried with the king, but there was one that was much superior to the others – the king’s own 5.5 liter drinking horn. Made of bronze, iron, and gold with horn and bone ornaments hanging from the end. The rest of the horns were made mostly of organic horn and didn’t preserve as well as the iron one.

What the tomb would have looked like the day the prince was buried

Other items in the tomb were jewelry made of gold, a bronze and iron dagger, a nail clipper (check out our bronze age grooming article to learn more about how valuable grooming tools were to the ancient Europeans), fishing hooks, and probably most interesting to our mead drinking readers, a massive cauldron filled with 100 gallons of sweet, sweet mead.

The grave was originally covered by a large mound that would have been seen from miles around, but the mound had worn down so much that by the time archaeologists began finding various Celtic princes buried around the region, they didn’t even know to look there. In a stroke of luck, the chamber was found. Since then, the mound has been rebuilt and there now stands a museum nearby where visitors can visit a recreation of the gilded tomb.

Want to read more about ancient drinking horns? Click here.

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The Hochdorf Drinking Horn: Mead Vessel of a Celtic Prince