The Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake is an annual event held on the Spring Bank Holiday at Cooper's Hill, near Gloucester in England. It is traditionally done by and for the people who live in the local village of Brockworth, but now people from all over the world take part. The Guardian called it a "world-famous event", with winners from the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Nepal and Wales.
The event is traditional and takes its name from the hill on which it occurs. Until recent years, it was managed in a quasi-official manner, but since 2010 the event has taken place spontaneously without any management.
How it works...
From the top of the hill, a 9 lb round of Double Gloucester cheese is rolled, and competitors start racing down the hill after it. The first person over the finish line at the bottom of the hill wins the cheese. In theory, competitors are aiming to catch the cheese; however, it has around a one-second head start and can reach speeds up to 112 kmh, enough to knock over and injure a spectator. In the 2013 competition, a foam replica replaced the cheese for reasons of safety. The winner was given the prize after the competition.
The Cheese Rollers pub in the nearby village of Shurdington, about 3 miles from Cooper's Hill, takes its name from the event. The nearest pubs to the event are The Cross Hands and The Victoria, both of which are in Brockworth, which competitors frequent for some pre-event Dutch courage or discussion of tactics, and after the event for convalescence.
How it all came about...
This ceremony originally took place each Whit Monday before it later transferred to the Spring Bank Holiday. Two possible origins have been proposed for the ceremony. The first is said that it evolved from a requirement for maintaining grazing rights on the common.
The second proposal is pagan origins for the custom of rolling objects down the hill. It is thought that bundles of burning brushwood were rolled down the hill to represent the birth of the New Year after winter. Connected with this belief is the traditional scattering of buns, biscuits and sweets at the top of the hill by the Master of Ceremonies. This is said to be a fertility rite to encourage the fruits of harvest.
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Pic: By Dave Farrance, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26349182