An ancient tradition that took place on Coopers Hill near the village of Shurdington in Gloucestershire (UK) on the spring bank holiday of every year (around May 21st, until recently banned.

The part of Coopers hill that was used is steep, very steep - 1 in 2 and even 1 in 1 (45 degrees) in places. The participants line up at the top and the 'cheese' is rolled down and chased by the participants who run after it. The first to the bottom wins a large round of Double Gloucester cheese.

Running is actually something of a misnomer since due to the steepness of the hill and the roughness most participants immediately go head over heels and roll to the bottom where there was only the local rugby team and a large cotswold stone wall to stop them. Staying on your feet is a rare occurrence and almost always guarantees winning. Needless to say injuries are common (18 out of 20 participants in 1997) though widely accepted .

The origins of cheese rolling are lost in time - local has it that it is in defence of the right of local people to graze sheep on common land (presumably on the grounds that any group of people insane enough to hurl themselves over the side of a near cliff after a piece of cheese are not to be messed with) . It is certainly very old - it has a documented history that goes back 800 years and elements of it can be dated back to pre-Christian fertility rites - specifically a pole garlanded with flowers placed at the top of the hill.

My uncle was a champion cheese roller after WWII and is still held in high regard in my mothers family (who have lived in the local villages for since the year dot). Presumably the cheese won made an important contribution to the diet of a family of 9 children in the days of rationing.

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