You may be wondering why there are 2 photos of this hill which I took yesterday near Brockworth, Gloucester, a place called Cooper’s Hill to be precise. Every year on the day of the Spring Bank Holiday the hills come alive with the sound of cheese rolling!
Now officially an extreme sport, cheese-rolling attracts competitors to Gloucester from all over the world who come to chase a Double Gloucester cheese down the 300 yard-long hill. The cheese used is a 3 to 4 kilogram Double Gloucester which is a hard cheese traditionally made in a circular shape and the cheese used is made by local Cheese maker Mrs Smart. The cheese is protected for the rolling by a wooden casing round the side and is then decorated with ribbons at the start of the race.
Photo courtesy of Smarts Traditional Gloucester Cheese.
Every year the master of ceremonies orders the eight-pound wheel of Double Gloucester cheese be released at the count of 3. The runners follow at the count of 4. The slope which they run down is too steep to run down safely, with an average gradient of 45 degrees but steeper than that in parts. With its small size and aerodynamic shape, the cheese can gather a speed of more than 30mph which is much faster than a human can run. At the bottom of the hill, volunteers try to catch the racers as they try to stop.
In 1998 the event was cancelled due to a high number of cheese injuries the previous year, where 27 racers were harmed in the chase. Participants have unfortunately suffered broken arms and legs as well as neck and head injuries. The sidelines can be unsafe too, in 1994 an escaped cheese broke the leg of a 9 year old boy.
The first written evidence of cheese rolling is found from a message written to the Gloucester town crier in 1826 and even then it was apparent the event was an old tradition, and it is believed to be at least six hundred years old. According to local legend, the cheese roll began as a pagan ritual that welcomed spring and others claim it is the remnant of an ancient fertility rite.
Photo image by Cameron Smith/Getty.
This is last years winner Abby Lampe who travelled just under 4,000 miles from North Carolina in the US to take part in the event and nabbed the women’s title.
This years Cheese Rolling 2023 will be held on Monday May 29th from 12:00 till 16:00 if you are interested in attending! (Or participating!)
Does anyone else know of or has been a part of a local bizarre event or tradition?