Warped Horn

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Warped Horn

Postby RecycledViking on Sun Jul 06, 2008 3:09 pm

I want to put this thread in the appropriate period forum, but I can't because I don't know the appropriate period!
I've been seeing, both online and at Renaissance Faires (go on, shudder!), bowls, plates, spoons, and other non-horn-shaped objects made out of real horn. I know that 'when heated to extremes [it] will go back to its natural shape. These pieces should not be used in boiling water or a modern dishwasher': Horn Pieces
How are these made? What period(s) is/are warped horn authentic to?
'I think Yank, but maybe Æsir'
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Re: Warped Horn

Postby panda on Thu Jul 10, 2008 9:43 am

RecycledViking wrote:I want to put this thread in the appropriate period forum, but I can't because I don't know the appropriate period!
I've been seeing, both online and at Renaissance Faires (go on, shudder!), bowls, plates, spoons, and other non-horn-shaped objects made out of real horn. I know that 'when heated to extremes [it] will go back to its natural shape. These pieces should not be used in boiling water or a modern dishwasher': Horn Pieces
How are these made? What period(s) is/are warped horn authentic to?

Soaking in warm water. It softens the horn so it becomes malleable. Don't know for what periods but I'm gonna assume fairly early.
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Re: Warped Horn

Postby Andrea L Redden on Sat Jul 12, 2008 1:46 am

Hello Annie! :)
RecycledViking wrote:I want to put this thread in the appropriate period forum, but I can't because I don't know the appropriate period!
I've been seeing, both online and at Renaissance Faires (go on, shudder!), bowls, plates, spoons, and other non-horn-shaped objects made out of real horn. I know that 'when heated to extremes [it] will go back to its natural shape. These pieces should not be used in boiling water or a modern dishwasher': Horn Pieces
How are these made? What period(s) is/are warped horn authentic to?

Maybe we need a separate "Making stuff in general" forum like the "General Chat" forum :) . Better if moved to the "General Chat" forum otherwise I think. The website is all reproduction 18th century stuff.

The best book I can recommend on the subject is: Bone, antler, ivory and horn: The Technology of Skeletal Materials Since the Roman Period, Arthur C. MacGregor, ISBN 0-7099-3242-1 & 0-389-20531-1. This is NOT the York book by the same author. A friend in the US who has both said that if I could only afford to buy one get this one, it covers an extended period and all of Europe.

In chapter 5, Working Methods and Tools, under Softening and Moulding, Horn it gives directions from the the early 20th century for cutting, flattening and "welding" horns into flat plates prior to their being converted into lantern windows, combs, boxes, etc. "The methods described here have been in common use for at least the past three centuries and many of them probably have much earlier origins. Blumner (1879) quotes Pausanius on the softening of horn in the second century AD, and mentions a striking range of utensils known from classical literary sources. In most surviving early artefacts in which horn was used other than in its complete form, too little survives of the prganic material to demonstrate whether it had been worked in this way. The plates of the Benty Grange helmet, however, were judged to have been softened and bent into shape. A fragment of thin horn with incised decoration, perhaps originally from a box or casket, found in a medieval context at York may be an early piece of pressed or delaminated horn. The series of horn combs with riveted side plates seems to consist of the entire thickness of the horn, which has simply been flattened out."
HORN COMBS Double-sided horn combs have been recovered from "a Roman grave group found in York in the nineteenth century", "an undated find from Queen Victoria Street, London" and "a ninth or tenth century pit at Milk Street, London". "Horn combs of Dark Age or Viking date are practically unknown on the continent (Tempel 1969) but Ambrosiani (1981) notes some evidence for their production at both Ribe in Denmark and Dorestad in the Netherlands.
Six horn combs from Dublin.....range in date from the twelvth to the fourteenth centuries."
BLAST HORNS AND DRINKING HORNS "A number or horns have been recognised from Dark Age and later sites, notably in the British Isles. In most cases only the decorative metal mounts have survived, but actual horn fragments were recovered from Anglo-Saxon burials at Taplow, Buckinghamshire (J. Stevens 1884), Broomfield, Essex (G.B. Brown 1915) and Sutton Hoo, Suffolk (Bruce-Mitford 1979). The former presence of others is attested by metal rim-mounts at Sarre, Kent (Brent 1865) and Alton, Hampshire (Evison, 1963). ..... There seems to be no way at present of distinguishing blast horns from drinking horns on the apprearance of the rim."
POWDER HORNS " With the invention of gunpowder, the horn industry found an important new outlet for its products." Etc.
OTHER HORN CONTAINERS "From the late medieval period, they are known to have been used to hold coins. ..... Axle-grease was commonly carried in cattle-horns by carters and coachmen.....reapers used them to keep a mixture of grease and sand to aid the whetstone in sharpening their blades.....applying slip to pottery.....the manufacture of snuff mulls....."

More to follow when I have time. Horn helmets, composite bows, crossbows, knife/implement handles, spoons and weaving tablets.

Andrea (during a slow Saturday morning at work when the boss wasn't rostered on :D )
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Re: Warped Horn

Postby the_power on Mon Jul 14, 2008 8:49 pm

The Bentley Grange helmet looks pretty cool, actually. Very Beowulf;

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Re: Warped Horn

Postby Andrea L Redden on Tue Jul 15, 2008 12:50 pm

Andrea L Willett wrote:More to follow when I have time. Horn helmets, composite bows, crossbows, knife/implement handles, spoons and weaving tablets.

HORN HELMETS "The qualities of lightness and toughness posessed by horn recommended it for use in Dark Age defensive helmets. These are rare and costly articles, however, and would have been worn only by the upper eschelons of society. .....
Only one helmet bearing evidence of having incorporated horn plates survives in Britain, namely the well known example found in the middle of the last century at Benty Grange, Derbyshire (Bateman 1861). ..... The helmet has recently undergone conservation and exhaustive research at the British Museum, from which the following details of its structure have emerged (Bruce-Mitford and Luscombe 1974). It consists of an iron framework based on a horizontal brow band 25mm wide and 1-2mm thick. From this brow band rises an openwork crown of which the two principal members are arranged at right angles to one another: one of them projects at the back to form a curved neck guard and at the front (where it had an applied silver cross) to form a nasal; the other projects at either side over the ears, the extensions perhaps originally carrying ear-protectors or anchorages for cheek pieces. The quadrants formed by these major strips were each subdivided by a narrower tapering iron band, also running from the brow band to the crest. On the inside of this framework would have been a cap of cloth or, more probably, of leather, while the outside it was covered with strips of horn. Traces of these strips survive as a mineralised pattern on the outer surface of the iron strips, the pattern reproducing the structure of fine parallel lines established above (p. 20) as being typical of horn. The horn has clearly been applied as a series of riveted plates , softened and bent into shape, with the 'grain' of each arranged obliquely to the iron framework and at right angles to that of the adjacent plate, resulting in a chevron pattern visible in the corrosion products. The junctions between the plates, marked by a small ridge of corrosion along the centre of the iron bands, were covered with a strip were covered with strips of horn, cut to the same width as the underlying iron bands and fixed to them with silvered rivets. Impressions detected in the corrosion products on the neck guard suggest that further horn plates were fixed between it and the ear pieces to give additional protection. The frame of the helmet was surmounted by a bronze crest in the form of a boar. A date in the latter half of the seventh century would seem to be appropriate.
An excellent parallel for this helmet comes from the grave of a princely youth found under Cloogne Cathedral, dating from the sixth century (Doppelfeld 1964). In this instance the helmet was thought to have been constructed as follows. First of all, a stiff leather skull-cap was made, either in one piece or from a series of wedge-shaped panels, probably in a mould. Twelve strips of horn were then cut as sectors of a single circle; for each of these a corresponding but slightly oversize leather lining was cut. A brow band of horn was mounted on the skull-cap and the leather-lined horn plates were glued to it, with a strong leather disc applied to the crown. The assembly was then stitched firmly together, using, at least in parts, bronze wires which passed through the leather edgings of the horn plates. Strips of bronze were then applied to the helmet, one passing around the outside of the horn brow band and the others arranged radially to cover the joints between the horn plates, terminating under a finial on top. A mail neck-guard and a pair of cheek-pieces were finally suspended from the rim.
The richness of the Cologne burial serves to emphasise the rarity of these helmets. To describe it as a 'child's version of the Spangenhelm' (Lasko 1971), with (presumably) the implication that being constructed of horn rather than sheet metal it should be considered as little more than a toy, seems misleading. Bearing in mind the evidence of the Benty Grange helmet, it is more appropriate to see the Cologne helmet (for all that it was made for a child) as a miniature version of an adult type and not as a useless substitute. The work of fracture for horn has been calculated at an impressively high value, and it would clearly have been quite effective in this role."
COMPOSITE BOWS "..... Strong strips of cattle horn were fixed with a suitable resiliant animal glue to the belly of the bow (that is, the surface of the bow facing the archer when in use); these strips were thickest and strongest towarsds the grip, gradually thinning out until they terminated at the elbows."
"While the horn strips clearly represent the most vital element in the composite bow to be made of the materials under review, pre-medieval examples seem not to have survived. Only one bow incorporating horn has so far been noted and nothing of certainty can be said about its age; this example, said to have been formed from a single horn, was found in the Fens between Ely and Waterbeach around the middle of last century; the only details published, apart from the above, are that it was 1.08m long and was broken at one end (Archaeological Journal 13, 412; 14, 284; 27, 76)."
CROSSBOWS "As already mentioned, most medieval crossbows found in northern Europe would have had bows of the composite structure described above, incorporating horn springs and, perhaps, bone or antler splints forming the nocks."

More to follow when I have time. Knife/implement handles, spoons and weaving tablets.

Andrea
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Re: Warped Horn

Postby Andrea L Redden on Mon Jul 21, 2008 12:36 am

IMPLEMENT HANDLES “Roman - ….. Riveted side-plates are more numerously found on Roman period knives, …..A more delicate knife from York preserved in the corrosion products of its iron strip tang the striated impression of what were almost certainly horn plates, although the horn itself had decayed (MacGregor 1978). ….. Post-medieval - ….. Handles of horn are little known before the eighteenth century, but from that time it became an immensely popular medium for fitting to a variety of domestic utensils, including pen-knives and cut-throat razors (Hardwick 1981). The most common form at this time took the shape of rivetted plates od material usually filed to shape and polished to reveal the natural markings; …..”
HAMMERS “At least in the last few centuries hammer heads made from the solid tips of cattle horn have been used by silversmiths.”
SPOONS “As an alternative to bone, cattle-horn and wood were probably widely used, although early spoons in either material are rare. Hardwick (1981) illustrated an eighteenth century wooden former consisting of two elements, respectively, a positive and a negative spoon mould. Blanks of horn cut to an appropriate size were softened over the fire and then clamped in the mould while they cooled, when the shape was permanently fixed. Similar techniques are used to this day in the manufacture of horn spoons, which are valued for their resistance to staining and to attracting flavour. A number of horn spoons of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries are listed in the catalogue of the Guildhall Museum (1908).
TABLET WEAVING “An adjunct (or in some cases, an alternative) to the warp-weighted loom was the method of weaving which employed tablets, small plaques which were often made of bone, although examples in wood, metal, horn, and leather are also known.”

Bibliography
Ambrosiani, K., 1981 Viking Age Combs, Comb Making and Comb Makers in the Light of Finds from Birka and Ribe (Stockholm: Stockholm Studies in Archaeology 2).
Bateman, T., 1861 Ten Years Diggings in Celtic and Saxon Grave Hills (London: Longman Green).
Blumner, H., 1879 Technologie and Terminologie der Gewerbe und Kunste bei Griechen und Romern 2 (Leipzig: Teubner).
Brent, J., 1865 ‘Account of the Society’s researches in the Anglo-Saxon cemetary at Sarr’, Archaeologia Cantiana 6, 157-85.
Brown, G.Baldwin, 1915 The Arts of Early England 3 and 4 (London: Murray)
Bruce-Mitford, R., 1979 The Sutton Hoo Ship Burial: a Handbook 3rd edn, (London: British Museum).
Bruce-Mitford, R. and Luscombe, M.R., 1974 “The Benty Grange Helmet’, in R. Bruce-Mitford, Aspects of Anglo-Saxon Archaeology (London: Gollancz), 223-42.
Doppelfeld, O., 1964 ‘Das frankische Knabengrab unter dem Chor des Colner Domes’, Germania 42, 156-88
Evison, V.I., 1988 An Anglo-Saxon Cemetary at Alton, Hampshire (Gloucester: Hampshire Field Club Monograph 4). [Think the date in the text was a typo, she/he wrote Anglo-Saxon Shield Bosses in 1973]
Hardwick,, P., 1981 Discovering Horn (Guildforn: Lutterworth).
Lasko, P., 1971 ‘The comb of St Cuthbert’, in C.F. Battiscombe (ed.) The Relics of St Cuthbert (Durham: Dean and Chapter of Durham Cathedral), 336-55.
MacGregor, A., 1978 ‘Roman Finds from Skeldergate and Bishophill’, in P.V. Addyman (ed.), The Archaeology of York 17 (London: Council for British Archaeology), 31-66.
Stevens, J., 1884 ‘On the remains found in an Anglo-Saxon tumulus at Taplow, Buck.’, Journal of the British Archaeological Association 40, 61-71.
Tempel. W.-D., 1969 Die Dreilagenkamme aus Haithabu: Studien zu den Kammen der Wikingerzeit im Nordseekustengebiet und Skandinavien (DPhil thesis, University of Gottingen).

Done!

Comments & opinions later,

Andrea
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