Blinking on the rocks.

Lofotmuseet

Storvågan • Lofoten

You might have seen rusty bolts and rings in the rocks on the shore along high tide line. You will sometimes find what looks like a target in black and white where a mooring ring is located, but in many places the waves haved worn away the paint. The black and white circles are there to make the ring more visible.

People used natural mooring points in the past: Big stones, trees and crags. Nobody knows for certain when we began using iron bolts and rings for mooring, but there are written sources that mention regulations and legal notes from the 1600s.

In the beginning it was the commoners who sat up and maintained the mooring rings, usually close to a big city. Moorings included certain privileges and the people responsible for the rings could charge a mooring fee, what we used to call ring money, ringpenger.

In the 1820s the state began setting out mooring rings that people could use without having to pay ring money. Government rings became more systematic in the 1840s. there were crews dedicated to this work all along the coast. These crews were usually from Sunnmøre; the workers are described as tough and precise. It was difficult work done in difficult conditions.

Every mooring ring had to be cemented into a hole drilled into the rock. The holes were supposed to be 40 cm deep and were drilled by hand. One man held the bore while two men hammered using a sledge. It took thousands of hits to make a hole that was deep enough.

There were not many rings set out after 1920 or so. The last time the rings were counted was in 1922. There were about 12,200 public moorings of different kinds along the coast.

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