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photograph of current display in the Grand Vestibule

A display highlighting the interaction between the monarchy and the wider world


Powder horn late eighteenth century

RCIN 62085

Grand Vestibule, Windsor Castle

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Powder horns were a central part of a soldier’s equipment in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. They held the gunpowder for firearms. Cow or ox horns were particularly suitable because they were a convenient shape for funnelling and pouring as well as being water- and fire-resistant. When not in use, they were worn slung over the shoulder by a strap threaded through suspension holes.

Soldiers whiling away the hours added engraved and coloured decoration to their powder horns, though sometimes this work was done by a professional. Maps were a popular subject. This horn is engraved with a map of Canada and a landscape view of New York – key sites of trade and warfare in the eighteenth century. The prominent royal coat of arms on this horn suggests it may have been owned by a British officer serving in Canada or by an American before the War of Independence.