STILTON may have given its name to the famous blue cheese despite the fact it was never made in the village north of Huntingdon.
But now Stilton's claim to cheese-making fame has been given a boost by the discovery of a 2,000-year-old cheese press there.
The Roman press was found in a ditch by local potter Richard Landy. It is believed to have been used to make cheese from sheep's or goat's milk - a far cry from today (Saturday, 15 April)'s version of Stilton cheese.
Mr Landy said: "I was elated when I found the press.
I have already found extensive evidence of the Roman period from a number of sites around Stilton. I have also made pottery for the Stilton Cheese Makers' Association, so you could say it is a happy coincidence that I found the cheese press."
Philippa Walton, county archaeologist who identified the press, said: "This is a truly exceptional object found in a very apt spot. Its Third Century origin suggests Stilton's association with cheese may stretch back more than 1,800 years."
T he cheese press is one of more than 500 finds reported under the Portable Antiquities Scheme designed to encourage members of the public to report archaeological finds they make.
Stilton cheese comes from a handful of cheese-makers in Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire and acquired its name from the village where much of it was sold to hungry travellers.
The village still celebrates the cheese and its annual cheese-rolling celebrations take place on Monday, May 1, this year.