Tar Barreling is a tradition in the town of Ottery St Mary in Devon since the mid 1800s, so long that no one really knows why it started. Most likely, I am told, is that it was during the plague when they used smoke to ventilate the houses.
It is a tradition that has been passed through generations of families from the town. A right of passage, and a fiercely guarded tradition meant that only a very select few outsiders where ever allowed to join in. Now due to mounting insurance costs only Ottery residents can take part, and starting at 7 years old they have plenty of experience by the time they get to the heavy-weight barrels. Ranging from Junior 7-8yrs, to Teens, Intermediates, Women’s, then Men’s