A unicorn's horn, or alicorn, was very valuable during medieval times. The horn was believed to be able to cure many illnesses and neutralize poison. Unicorn's horn was sold in druggist's shops in powdered form, and whole horns were kept in the vaults of royalty.In medieval times, the magical power of the horn was still believed in. A powder made from this horn was supposed to neutralize any kind of poison and the horn itself was said to bleed when poisoned food was brought near it. As a consequence of this, in these "glorious days" of assasins and intrigants the horn of a unicorn was highly desired by noble men and rulers an in the 15th century 40.000 gold pieces were offered for one (The actual horn, that was offered, often was the horn of the narwhale (lat.: monodom monoceros), which is also called "unicorn of the sea". The male narwhale has one twisted tusk on his "nose", that looks like a horn and which can be 1.5-5 (!) meters long.). The healing power its horn was supposed to have, made the unicorn a symbol of medicine. Even today you may find quite a lot old medicine stores with the picture or the name of the unicorn.
Tests of a True Alicorn
In Medieval times there was much concern over alicorns (unicorn's horns). Many people could not afford real alicorns and rumors circulated that many horns were actually fakes. Since people were so concerned over the authenticity of their alicorns, many scientists came up with tests to tell whether the alicorn was a real horn or a counterfeit. These are some of their tests.
1)The true horn, when thrown into water, sends up little bubbles. The water seems to boil, though cold, and one can hear the boiling.
2)The true horn gives out a sweet odor when burned.
3) Poisonous plants and animals, when brought near the true horn, burst and die.
4) The true horn sweats in the presence of poison.
5)The true horn is always striated, is extremely hard, very heavy, the color of boxwood, and able to save the life of a pigeon poisoned with arsenic.
6) Enclose a spider in a circle drawn on the floor with an alicorn. If the horn is true the spider will not be able to cross outside of the circle and will starve to death inside it.
7) Place the horn in a vessel and
with it three or four live and large scorpions, keeping the vessel covered.
If four hours later the scorpions are dead, or almost lifeless, the alicorn
is a true one.