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Cooper's Hill



The whole top of Cooper's Hill and High Brotheridge is marked on the 'Magic' map as a camp (though no other information is given). G. W. B. Huntingford in 'The Scouring of the White Horse' (The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. 87, No. 1. (Jan. - Jun., 1957), pp. 105-114.) tries to make comparisons with the annual goings on at Uffington.. steep slopes, cheese, springs, earthworks.. hmm.. no horse though.

"..every year on the afternoon of Whit Monday a cheese is rolled down a steep slope, steeper if anything than the Manger. This custom is known as the Cooper's Hill Wake, and it has taken place for a long time, though it does not seem to be known how far back it goes. The site is a flat area at about 800 feet above mean sea level, and the cheeses are rolled down the slope which faces north; at its foot, just above -the 600-foot contour, there are some springs. Much of the hill-top is covered with beech trees, but the slope itself is bare, and at the top stands a maypole, which remains from year to year.. In addition to cheese rolling, there are races for children, tug of war, and sack races."

On Whitmonday, 27th May, 1912, the custom of "Cheese-bowling" was, as usual, carried out at the Wake held on Cooper's Hill, not far from the city of Gloucester. The custome, it is said, must be performed annually in order to preserve to the people the rights of common. According to the Gloucestershire Echo of May 28th, the master of the cermonies, Mr W Brookes, who has officiated in this capacity for thirty years, appeared wearing, as usual, a brown top-hat which his parents won in a dancing contest many years ago, and with a chemise over his coat.
He stood by the maypole and repeatedly called to the crowd to form "the alley" down the slope. "The course being clear, the Vicar opened the ball by sending the first 'cheese' (a disc of wood wrapped in pink paper) rolling down the hill. Helter-skelter ran nine young men after it, and most of them pitch-poled. The first to secure the disc, stopped at the bottom by a hedge, had to trudge uphill again, and there exchange it for the prize cheese... The 'Cheese-bowling' was varied by some rural sports on a stretch of flat ground near the maypole. These included running, jumping in sacks, and a tug of war, in which the lady contestants once more pulled stronger than the mere men."
Scraps of English Folk-Lore, VI
A. Lukyn Williams; D. H. Moutray Read; W. Crooke; Ella M. Leather; F. Weeks; E. M. Cobham; Estella Canziani; E. B. Pitman; E. L. Allhusen; E. Wright
Folklore, Vol. 23, No. 3. (Sep., 1912), pp. 349-357.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
15th October 2006ce
Edited 10th June 2013ce

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