The myth is based on a 17th-century mistranslation of a passage of the skaldic poem Krákumál.

In the passage, heroes are described while they drink from ór bjúgviðum hausa (translated - branches of skulls).

However, the passage actually referred to drinking horns (horns of bovids), not actual human skulls. 

Drinking horns were popular as far back as in the Classical world. They were used for special and ceremonial purposes throughout the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period in parts of Europe. 

Drinking horns

It is also important to note that archeologists have not discovered many drinking horns. However, they did uncover enough ornamental metal fittings to support descriptions from Viking tales.

Furthermore, some images also point to drinking horns, such as the image on the Viking Age Tjängvide image stone from Gotland, Sweden. On the stone, we can see a valkyrie offering a horn of mead to what is believed to be a new arrival in Valhalla.

Experts also know that, aside from drinking horns, Vikings also used large drinking cups with a wide mouth (metal or wooden), as well as regular glass cups.

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