The Alkmaar Cheese Carriers' Guild

Strong men
The cheese trade has been alive in its traditional form in Alkmaar for hundreds of years. During that time, heavy loads of cheese have been transported to and from the Waagplein. Cheese is heavy - so strong men are needed. The cheese carrier guild consists of 30 men and the cheese master.

Guild established
In 1593 the Alkmaar cheese carriers established a guild, which was common practice at the time. Those who were not a member of a guild, were not allowed to exercise the profession. The guild defended the interests of its members and provided them with protection.

How the Cheese Carriers’ Guild works:
The Alkmaar Cheese Carriers' Guild consists of 28 men and the cheese master. The cheese master is the head of the guild. The 28 guild members are divided into four groups. These groups are called 'vemen'. Each veem has its own cheese scale in the Waaggebouw.

The colours of the 'vemen'
Did you notice the cheese carriers wearing different coloured hats? The colour indicates to which veem the cheese carrier belongs. The feather colour is also reflected in the barrows the cheese carriers use. The cheese master can be recognised by his orange hat and his stick. The cheese carriers call him 'master'. Discover how a cheese market works.

Some traditions of the Cheese Carriers'Guild:
- Cheese Carriers address each other with their nicknames.
- Cheese carriers must pay a fine if they are late. The nickname of the cheese carrier who handles the fines is known as 'de Beul' (the hangman).
- Cheese carriers must not curse. If the barrow falls or another accident happens, they yell out 'owl!'

Find out when the cheese market is held, where it takes place and what you can do in Alkmaar after your visit at the Cheese Market


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