Watchmen in Ringkøbing

Free city tour with the guards every evening at 20:00 from July 1 to September 1. Start at the old town hall at the town square.


Ringkøbing is known for its singing watchmen, who walk through the streets of the town every evening in July and August from 20:00. The tours start at the Old County Council House at the town square.

At Hotel Ringkjøbing, the watchmen have their own lounge "VÆGTERSTUEN", where they sing along with the guests some evenings in the summer.


History of the Watchmen

The watchmen are mentioned in Copenhagen city law as early as 1294. Their job was to keep an eye out for fires and patrol the streets at night. Under Christian V, the capital was given a permanent corps of watchmen, who were now also responsible for turning the city's lights on and off, preventing fights and theft and putting the guilty in the city jail.

The watchmen's uniform consisted of a cloak, belt and a heavy cap. Their armament was a rapier and morning star (a rod with a ball at the top. The ball has 12 spikes, and this number is believed to correspond to the twelve months of the year). Later, the rapier was abolished, but the belt was retained to fasten drunk people when they were transported away on a fire ladder.

In Ringkøbing in 1785, two citizens were hired as town hall servants during the day and watchmen at night. During the day, they had to clean and heat the town hall and keep the prisoners warm. They were also diggers and beaters. At 9 o'clock in the evening, when the church bell rang, they had to ring the big bell and begin their watch. Every time the bell tolled, they would walk through the streets - the first time at 10 am - singing the watchman verses. Some sources claim that they had to sing to show that they were still awake.

Being a watchman was not a prestigious job, so the romance we associate with it has only emerged in modern times. The watchmen were especially tasked with keeping an eye out for fires, as the fire tools of the time were poor and the houses had flammable thatched roofs. Many towns were reduced to ashes, but in recent times Ringkøbing has been spared large, devastating fires.

When Copenhagen got gas lighting in 1862, the watchmen became redundant. Their other duties had already been taken over by the police. In many market towns, however, the watchmen continued their nightly rounds and singing for a long time.
In 1975, the old watchman custom was resumed in Ringkøbing. During these years, watchmen have been on duty for a few weeks every summer. In 1991, the service was extended to two months, and the watchman corps now counts 8 members (previously three), who have created an actual watchman guild. The guild always represents Ringkøbing at the European watchman meetings.


The old guard verse states:

Om I vil tiden vide,
Husbonde, Pig' og Dreng,
da er det på de Tide,
man føjer sig til Seng.
Befaler Eder Herren fri!
vær klog og snild,
vogt lys og ild.
Vor Klok' er slagen ti.

Ære være Gud, vor Herre,
Hannem ske Lov, Pris og Ære.
Vinden er sydvest.


 Vægterne i Ringkøbing

Contact the Guardsmen:

If you want to book a visit from the Guardsmen for an event, this must be arranged directly with the Guardsmen themselves.

Contact Aage or Bjørn:

Bjørn Møller
Tlf.: 61291251

Aage Madsen
Tlf.: 21727256