Dramatic photos of Ottery's famous flaming tar barrels

As these dramatic photos show, the Ottery tar barrels event last night proved to be another flaming success.   Those who have visited Ottery St Mary on 5th November, still find it difficult to understand what motivates the townspeople into carrying flaming tar barrels through the streets. However, it is a much-loved tradition that is hundreds of years old and attracts thousands every year.    The exact origins are unknown but probably started after the gunpowder plot of 1605. Various alternative reasons suggested for burning barrels have included fumigation of cottages and as a warning of the approach of the Spanish armada.   The West Country has a history of torchlight processions and burning barrels and Ottery was only one of the many towns and villages following an annual tradition containing barrels which were rolled in the streets on November 5th each year.   Somewhere along the line someone decided rolling was tame and carrying barrels on your shoulders was far more appealing and so the present tradition was born and now Ottery is the only Town in the country carrying full sized lighted tar barrels through the streets.   However, The Ottery Carnival Committee will be hoping that their plea for more funding be heard by the visitors last night, as each year it becomes more difficult to find the money to cover the costs of running this event. The Committee works tirelessly throughout the year to raise funds to cover the ever rising expenses.    If you would like to see this tradition again next year, donate at http://www.otterytarbarrels.co.uk/funding.html   Photos by: James Millar

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