Weird Sport – Ottery Tar Barrels

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Time for another insanely dangerous British sport.

Since the dawn of time we have strived to hold in our hands the all consuming destructive power of fire. The Ottery Tar Barrels is another attempt for man to harness that power (women and children also take part).

Loads of information can be found here:








The origins of Tar barrels is apparently hundreds of years old. There are suggested links with the gunpowder plot and fumigation attempts and even a possible link to warnings about the Spanish Amada, ala Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.

The big difference with the Ottery Tar Barrel event is that the barrels aren’t rolled through the town as they historically would have been, no. These barrels are carried on the shoulders of people from the town.

So, just for clarity, a barrel is selected, tarred, filled with paper and straw, set alight and only then does a member of the town pick up the barrel and run around with it.

There are several Barrel locations around the town and they apparently follow different paths to the town centre.

I am trying to think how this is an actual sport. As a barrel carrier you have to not only hold the barrel on your shoulders for an extended period of time, but you have to navigate a packed town whilst the barrel is burning itself to oblivion. It is a competition between man and fire.

The above website is clear that the event is run for the townsfolk as a part of their history. Spectators are welcome for additional monetary support, as the costs of marshalling the event have increased as more spectators arrive for the event.

If you are thinking of attending, the event takes place on the 5th of November. The town is closed off and visitors will be directed towards an out of town car park. If you are attending be aware that the event involves people running through narrow streets with flaming tar barrels on their back.









During the Ottery Tar Barrel event danger is almost guaranteed, to see more of this insanely dangerous yet highly watchable “sport” check out this you tube video – Tar Barrels – You Tube

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