The Burry Man

The Burry Man

The Burry Man is a mythical creature of Scottish origin.The Burry Man is brought to life in the Burry Man's Parade which occurs the second Friday of August. This parade dates back to pagan Britain and the meaning of this ceremony has been lost to time. A local man is covered in burrs (from the burdock plant) and is paraded around the town. It's thought the parade was to ward off evil spirits - it can certainly ward off children who are said to be terrified at the very look of the Burry Man. In 2005, the Burry Man inspired an amusing avantgarde folk song by Daniel Patrick Quinn and narrated by local man Duncan Grahl.


At one time, almost every town and fishing village along the Firth of Forth had a "burry man" or scapegoat figure, usually to bless the herring season or the local harvest. Now, only the walk in South Queensferry remains. The residents believe he will bring luck to the town if they give him whisky and money.

There are many theories about how he got started, what the ceremony means, why it continues. Basically, though, he walks, collecting whisky and money... because he's collecting whisky and money. The fact that he carries on a tradition thousands of years old (which he does); that he is a symbol of rebirth, regeneration and fertility that predates just about all contemporary religions (which it is); that he is covered in burrs from head to foot — ankle, actually — for long cold and sometimes wet hours perhaps to epitomize a "scapegoat" or "resurrection" mythology, and is uncomfortable at best and in great pain at worst (which he most definitely is); is secondary to the fact that he simply is.

Only men born in the village can take on the hand-picked mantle of the Burry Man. In the past they have included Alan Reid, James "Kitter" Magan, Mr. J. Hast, Sam Corson, Arne Fredricksen, and currently John Nichol.

External links

* [] article on the Burryman tradition, and John Nicol, the current incarnation.

The burry man is very scary.

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