Even Covid-19 couldn’t stop the Burryman!

It’s so old that the real reasoning or purpose behind a local custom has been lost in the annals of time.

Tuesday, 18th August 2020, 8:28 am
The Burryman was protected this year due to Covid-19 social distancing. Pic by Alistair Pryde/Words&Pictures

But that doesn’t stop the people of South Queensferry celebrating it every year, with a figure, that, to put it plainly, is more likely to be found in a horror movie that Mary Poppins!

The Burryman, a central figure in Queensferry’s annual Ferry Fair summer festival is ‘adorned’ with burrs. You know, those velcro-like bits of plant material that are a nightmare to remove from clothing.

He then parades through the town, and although the meaning of the ceremony has been lost it’s thought it could have been to do with seeking good fortune for town or harvest.

However, for the first time ever, special protocols were put in place. The Burryman walked on pavements not roads so traffic wasn’t stopped and crowds didn’t form. No-one approached the Burryman and photos were taken at a distance. On the tour a “bubble” was created and no-one penetrated the bubble, which itself was protected by a police cordon.

Speaking of the event, Burryman Andrew Taylor said, “Every year we do this is special, but never has this been more true than of 2020. We thought long and hard about whether it would be possible due to restrictions in place for the pandemic. We took advice from Police Scotland and, with them, we managed a socially distanced Burryman Tour! The reaction from the locals on the day was breathtaking. It was clear that we represented a small return to normality.”