Did Vikings drink from the skulls of their enemies?
Vikings did not actually drink from the skulls of their enemies. This was a misunderstanding of an Old Norse poetic kenning.
People once thought that Vikings drank from the skulls of their enemies. This is a misunderstanding of Krákumál 25 where it states:
'drekkum bjór af bragði ór bjúgviðum hausa''drink beer at once from the curved branches of skulls'.
'Curved branches of skulls' is a kenning meaning 'a horn' but was translated by Ole Worm in Runir seu Danica Literatura Antiqvissima (1651, p. 203) as:
'Sperabant Heroes se in aula Othini bibituros ex craniis eorum qvos occiderant''The heroes hoped to drink in Odin's hall from the skulls of those they had killed'.
As the kenning suggests, Vikings actually drank from horns of cattle or goats. Few horns have been found, but decorative metal fittings have survived in sufficient numbers to support the literary evidence. There are also images, such as that of a valkyrie offering a horn of mead to a new arrival in Valhalla on Tjängvide (I) picture stone from Gotland, Sweden. However, Vikings did not just drink from horns. they used glass cups and wooden or metal beakers too.