Horn work

Horn has been used from the earliest times as a tool or made into essential utensils like spoons, combs and beakers. Its malleability when heated has made it an easy and useful material to make a wide selection of items from, while its range of colours has proved desirable for many decorative uses. In the 18th & 19th centuries the Ayrshire village of Kilmaurs was renowned for its horn cutlery industry.

Since prehistoric times man has used horn, antler and bone implements as tools, household objects, jewellery and weapons. A little later horn from livestock was being heated and moulded. This versatile material could also be cut into such thin pieces that they could become almost transparent and be used almost like glass.

In south west Scotland, much horn work was originally undertaken by travelling folk or 'tinkers'. Later master horners set themselves up with small businesses within all the major towns. 

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