Video: Council worker transforms into South Queensferry's Burryman
Council worker Andrew Taylor is walking around South Queensferry today (Friday) covered head to toe in 20,000 sticky plant heads - because he is the Burryman.
The 36-year-old has played the part of the Burryman for the last seven years, despite admitting he was terrified of the figure when he was a child, dressed in a costume made of burrs from the burdock plant.
As part of the 900-year-old tradition, the Burryman will walk a seven-mile route through the town, guided by two helpers as the stickiness of his costume means that he walks awkwardly.
Andy Malarky, a volunteer for the parade, said: “I think the costume comes as quite a surprise to people because it looks so different.
“He will walk the route of South Queensferry, warding off evil spirits and stopping off at various places to get a nip of whiskey.
“He can drink between 20 and 25 during the day, through a straw, but Andrew says the whole excitement of the day keeps it at bay.
“We started at 8.45am and we are hoping to get back around 6pm - so it’s a long day for Andrew in the suit which is quite difficult to walk in.”
Andrew says he now revels in the role of upholding the tradition, which he hopes will live on forever.
He said: “When you are a kid you are scared of the Burryman. I was one of the kids who would always get a fright when I saw him. That is my first memory of the Burryman.
“Because I am from Queensferry, I know how important the Burryman is.
“People come from all over the world see it. You start to realise what a big tradition it is.
“The story that I was always told is that the Burryman takes all the evil spirits out of Queensferry and then people come and touch you for luck.
“I could never imagine there not being a Burryman day in Queensferry. It’s such a unique, brilliant tradition that I hope it lasts forever.”
For the past fortnight Andrew and his team have been collecting the burr heads needed to make the costume with many taken from the Dalmeny Estate.
From these, around 50 patches of around A4 size are made from the plant heads, which are so sticky that they naturally bind together without the need for glue.
The patches are then placed over a protective suit made from long johns, a long-sleeved top and a hood.
The costume is unique - as well as the sensation it creates.
Andrew said: “It’s a weird one. You get into a zone with it.
“It isn’t the most comfortable thing as they stick to you, they scratch you and once you are in the costume that is you for the whole day, from 9am to 6pm.
“I love the tradition and I love the whole day. I have got a great team around me and we just all enjoy ourselves, from collecting the burrs to doing the patching.
“There are not that many people who can say they are the Burryman.”