Andrew notches up another weirdly wonderful Burryman success

Its true origin is lost in the mists of antiquity, but as possibly Scotland’s weirdest annual traditional ritual the cult of the Burryman is as strong as ever.

By Roy Beers
Saturday, 10th August 2019, 3:23 pm
The weather is grim - but nothing stops the Burryman.
The weather is grim - but nothing stops the Burryman.

Some say the late summer parade through South Queensferry may date back eight or nine hundred years, but nobody knows for sure.

The modern-day Green Man who wards off evil spirits in his seven mile trek around town (imbibing whisky at the doors of grateful townsfolk) may be carrying out a rite as old as prehistoric standing stones.

Council worker Andrew Taylor (37), who made his latest excursion yesterday, has worn the celebrated sticky suit for the past eight years.

The 800-year-old annual ritual saw Andrew Taylor covered from head to toe in burrs before being paraded around South Queensferry for nine hours.

He is proud to be carrying on such an ancient tradition, even although (he told the Scotsman newspaper) he was afraid of the Burryman when he was little.

He needs two attendants to steer him around town, as the bulky costume makes it difficult to walk normally - your legs have to be wide apart and your arms held out sideways.

The suit is covered in around 7,000 burrs gathered from the nearby Dalmeny Estate, and is so sticky that the wearer cannot realistically alter his pose without becoming completely gummed up - which creates a look redolent of something out of The Wicker Man.

The Scotsman reports that the nips of whisky Andrew enjoys along the route (his favourite is Island malt Isle of Jura) have to be sipped through a straw, as a glass would simply stick to his burr-covered hand.

Veteran Burryman Andrew Taylor gets ready to tour South Queensferry.

“Comfort breaks” are out of the question, and might even prove dangerous, but in all the time he has served as Burryman Andrew has never found this a problem.

Yet it is no easy pageant stroll through the village, as the stint begun at 8.45am (accompanied by proud wife Claire) runs until around teatime.

His effort was the prelude to Ferry Fair, and Andrew is keen to thank everyone who helped make it another success.

“Thank you to each and every one who came out to support me on my way round South Queensferry”, he said.

“It is truly a team effort and without all the Burryman team it wouldn’t be possible”.

Special thanks went to David, Michelle, and all the staff at the Stag (“great hospitality and support”), Robert and Christine Dickson for the “fabulous spread for all the helpers” (and dry socks and jackets); to Michael Shiels, Ian Russell, Queensferry Pipes and Drums - and Police Scotland, who made sure everyone was safe.

This year the coveted Burryman hat went to local man David Steele in his last year as chairman of the Ferry Fair, as a special thankyou for “all the hard work and commitment he has given South Queensferry”.