Saturday, 13 August 2011

What happy madness is this

I have been so excited all week, and this is why. The second Friday of August is a very special day in South Queensferry, Scotland, it is 'Burry Man Day'. I asked if I could accompany the Burry Man this year all day, and photograph the whole process.

The Burry man this year is John Nicol who has been the Burry Man for thirteen years, an amazing achievement considering how grueling this process is.

Apart from all of the preparations, the Burry Man has to walk through the streets of South Queensferry for nine hours without stopping for more than a lean against a wall or railing. Following a route that covers over seven miles. He does this whilst encased in a costume of incredibly prickly burrs that cluster in his joints and around his eyes and mouth. The burrs make it very awkward to move and so he has to walk with legs apart and his arms supported.

At most houses the Burry Man is offered whiskey, which, because of the restrictive nature of his costume, he drinks through a straw, this apart from being part of the Burry Man tradition is also to help keep him dehydrated as he cannot relieve himself all day. The Burry Man is a traditional event that is believed to have been happening in South Queensferry for over 900 years. The Burry man has to be a local man and collects his own burrs (approximately 11000) and decorative foliage. The Burry man brings the town of South Queensferry good luck and giving the Burry man whiskey and money is supposed to bring the individual good luck. (pictures)


  1. Incredible!

  2. what happy scratchy madness! Wonderful to see your pictures x