The Thrice Stolen Golden Drinking Horns of Gallehus

The Thrice Stolen Golden Drinking Horns of Gallehus

The unbelieveably intricate Golden Drinking Horns of Gallehus were a set of two discovered in Gallehus, Denmark. They would be 1500 years old, had had they not been stolen and melted down in 1802. The casts made of the horns were also lost, so the best we currently have are replicas derived from drawings.

One of the horns was found in 1639 by a peasant who was digging in the ground, and the other was found nearby nearly a century later in the same fashion. Made of double sheet gold, the beautiful horns were ornamented with images and a Proto-Norse Elder Futhark inscription, which is of great value to Germanic linguists.

The Girl Who Finds The Gold Horn (1906) by Harald Slott-Møller.

On May 4th, 1802, the horns were stolen by a watchmaker and goldsmith named Niels Heidenreich from the tiny Danish village of Foulum. Heidenreich melted them down that very night, and would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for that meddling goldsmiths guild who suspected him based on his previous show of poor character when he attempted to sell them forged Indian coins. He confessed a year later while on trial for a different forgery, and the buyers of the horn gold returned it, but it remains today in the form of the gold coins made by Heidenreich.


At the time the horns were originally found, casts of them were commissioned by a cardinal in Rome, but they were lost in a shipwreck off the Corsican coast.

One would think once would be enough for the horns to have been stolen, but some 19080 replicas (made from brass and silver) followed in the footsteps of the original when they were stolen in 1993 and again in 2007, but were recovered after each robbery.

Do you suppose this means they were always meant to stay buried?

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The Thrice Stolen Golden Drinking Horns of Gallehus