Sunday, 14 August 2011

Burry Man of South Queensferry

Above: Images of John Nicol being dressed as the Burry Man by family and friends.

I got the post card above many many years ago and I have always loved it.. it shows the Burry Man of South Queensferry probably in the early 1960's being given whiskey by his attendants. On Friday I had the great honour of spending Friday 'Burry Man Day' with the Burry Man, and not just any Burry Man, but John Nicol who has just stepped down after thirteen years of continuing this amazing tradition.

At 7.30 in the morning his amazing costume started to take shape, burrs collected by John and his family were all in square boxes. John first had to cover his clothes in thermal underwear and have any joins (trousers to top' top to balaclava) sewn up so that as few as possible of the irritating spiky burrs could get to his skin. Then the burrs were applied starting at his ankles. Once covered in Burrs, the Burry Man cannot lower his arms and has to walk with legs splayed out. It is a grueling day where he will cover over seven miles of his town, walking for nine hours receiving whiskey to drink and being unable to go to the toilet. It is also quiet claustrophobic being encased in burrs and then attracting crowds of well wishers some very happy to see him , for he brings luck, but some of the younger children and dogs are quite upset by his presence. It is not an easy job being a Burry Man.

I am hoping that we might be able to make our own versions of the Burry Man costume next term, again exploring the possibilities of raw plant materials as clothing.

1 comment:

  1. Please either remove my copyright image of the Burryman or credit me. Homer Sykes. This is an infringment of my copyright