Rain proves no barrier to ancient tradition as The Burryman patrols the streets of South Queensferry

These astonishing pictures show folk character the Burryman covered head to toe in more than 7,000 sticky plant heads - to ward off evil spirits as part of a historic parade.

Friday, 9th August 2019, 2:00 pm
Burryman Andrew Taylor prepares for his role

As part of the 900-year-old tradition, the Burryman will walk a seven-mile route through South Queensferry, today.

Council worker, Andrew Taylor, 37, has played the role of the Burryman for the last eight years - despite admitting he was afraid of the figure when he was a child.

Andrew is guided through the town by two helpers as the stickiness of his costume leads him to walk awkwardly, with his legs wide apart and arms held out sideways.

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The Burryman is almost ready to take to the streets

In the lead up to the annual festival, Andrew and his team collect the burr heads needed to make the costume, with many taken from the Dalmeny Estate in West Lothian.

Around 50 A4 sized patches are made from the plant heads which are then stuck on to his top, long johns, and a hat that protects his head.

As part of the historic tradition, Andrew is given nips of whiskey along the way by fans who turn out to see the spectacle - and can drink up to 25 during the parade.

Andrew set off at 8.45am with wife Claire, 38, by his side and hopes to finish the route around 6pm tonight.

Final touches before heading out

Proud Claire, a nursery teacher, said: "The weather isn't the greatest.

"But he has done this for eight years now so it will not stop him.

"The forecast is to brighten up later on.

"He was so excited and nervous to do this but the South Queensferry community love the Burryman.

The Burryman is ready for the off

"I am so proud of him. There is a whole team there to support him too.

"He has to keep his arms straight because if he drops them he might struggle to get them up again because the suit is really sticky.

"He has to drink from a straw because he can't hold a glass.

"People run over to him and put the glass to his mouth so he can sip the whisky.

Braving the rain on his annual parade

"His favourite is Jura whisky.

"It is a unique suit with around 7,000 burr heads on it.

"He has never needed to go to the toilet while doing this.

"The meaning behind it is to show good spirits and take the bad spirits away.

"Andrew loves being the Burryman."

Local Mary Hamlin, 82, has headed out to see the Burryman every year since 1958.

She said: "I come out every year and just give him whisky.

"I'll keep doing it as long as I can.

"My mother did it until she was 101.

"The weather is rotten but it's not stopping anybody."