To mark Bonfire Night, a town in Devon has carried out its annual ritual of setting barrels of tar on fire and carrying them through the streets.

The Flaming Tar Barrel ritual of Ottery St Mary is a tradition dating back hundreds of years. Its origins are unknown, but it is thought it probably started after the Guy Fawkes gunpowder plot of 1605.

Others have suggested the ritual was to fumigate cottages or to warn people of the approaching Spanish armada.

Thousands of people visited the town to watch flaming barrels being carried through the street - the sizes vary from small for children, medium for women and "gert big unfz" for men.

Participants raise the oak barrels above their heads, carrying them with special gloves for protection from the flames. In total, 17 barrels are carried through the streets.

Over 12 months, the barrels are chosen and their internal surface is coated with tar. They are then filled with straw and paper to help the lighting.

The West Country has a long history of torchlight processions and Ottery was one of the only places where barrels were rolled down the streets.

"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," the official website said.

The procession begins mid-afternoon in order of size and goes on into the night, culminating in a huge bonfire in St Saviours Meadow.

Construction of the fire starts around three weeks before the event and it eventually stands around 35ft high and 50ft wide.

Devon and Cornwall Police said the event ran smoothly and thanked event organisers and emergency services making the ritual a success.

Flaming tar barrels carried through the street for annual ritual@nikki_lloyd_
The ritual is thought to date back to the gunpowder plot from 1605.@paddy_kinsella
Other suggestions for the ritual origins include a Spanish armada warning or a fumigation practice.@bethcowling
17 flaming barrels are carried in total.@Natcoles
The barrels get bigger throughout the day culminating in 'gert big unfz'.@Natcoles
Children carry small barrels, women medium size and men large ones.@TheDanHerring
Thousands of people from across the country attend the event every year.@vickywright123
Special gloves are worn to protect people from the
The night ends with a huge bonfire that stands at 35ft high@shanemoulder