Jul 20, 2021

By Andy Johnson

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Another sign that life is returning to normal has occurred in North Yorkshire, England.  The Horn blowers of the city of Ripon are back on the job.

After 16 months spent blowing the horn at home, practitioners of the ancient tradition are back in the square where they’ve been performing for more than 1,000 thousand years.

The ceremony is known as “setting the watch.”  It entails one of the horn blowers giving their instrument a blast at each corner of the square’s obelisk before walking to the mayor’s house to let him know the watch has been set.

The tradition dates back to the year 886 when Saxon king Alfred the Great gave Ripon a horn after granting the city a Royal Charter. The gift led to the appointment of a “wakeman” who would patrol the settlement at night and sound the alarm if he saw a potential threat.

The pandemic interruption is the first time the tradition has faced such disruption since World War II when it was moved to earlier in the evening due to wartime blackouts.

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