Who plays the Burryman?

Share this article

THE search is on to find a person to take over the role of the Burryman in Queensferry.

Now in his 13th year of warding off evil spirits in Queensferry, John Nicol is looking to call it a day after next month’s Ferry Fair.

John (37) has decided that this will be his last year after taking on the role from the late Alan Reid back in 1999.

A graphic artist at Hibernian FC, John said: “Within the context of unusual traditions that occur within the British Isles, our very own Burryman is regarded by many as one of the most bizarre and interesting. But what happens when Queensferry needs a new Burryman? Is there someone in Queensferry’s almost 20,000 inhabitants that would be able and willing to consider taking on the task to help continue the tradition?”

While there is no guide as to being the Burryman, there are certain conditions that must be fulfilled. These include the need to be male and from Queensferry; be at least 18-years-old and prepared to drink alcohol; be determined, fit and able to walk between six to eight miles for up to nine hours; need to understand it is very difficult and painful, both physically and mentally; and finally, the willing person should have an interest in the tradition and be prepared for a time-consuming period of preparation.

If you think you have these attributes, then maybe you are halfway there to being the next custodian of the Burryman.

John added: “I believe the tradition of the Burryman is fantastic and from the start of my time in the role, have stated that continuation is the ultimate goal in my involvement. My decision to step down is just an extension of this. I’m hoping that by publically signalling my stepping down, at least one brave soul will rise to the challenge.”

He said: “Being the custodian of the Burryman has given much satisfaction as it is so rewarding to see people of all ages make a point of coming out to greet you. If no-one did come forward, I would be disappointed as it would mean the tradition is in ill health.”

John makes no bones about how punishing the task can be, saying: “You do need physical and mental strength to get you through it but at the end of the day when the suit is cut off there is a feeling of total satisfaction that you have done it.”

Any person interested should speak to a Ferry Fair Committee member or email burryman@ferryfair.co.uk