IT’S that time of the year when the shops are full of them and every parent’s carving skills are tested to the limit.

Earlier this week Hampshire was named as the home of Britain’s biggest pumpkin when twins Stuart and Ian Paton’s whopping creation weighed in at 160st at the annual Jubilee Sailing Trust pumpkin festival at Royal Victoria Country Park in Netley.

As these pictures show Hampshire’s love of the pumpkin and pumpkin growing stretches back years.

The pumpkin business at Hallowe’en is worth millions of pounds – with Sainsburys alone expected to sell more than a million pumpkins.

As soon as October hits pumpkin spiced lattes adorn specials boards in coffee shops, while they reign supreme in Hallowe’en aisles in shops everywhere.

But pumpkins haven’t always been just for Hallowe’en.

More than 7,500 years ago, pumpkins played an important role in food and medicine in the Americas – and became a focal a point of national pride and folklore.

From the time Europeans first set foot on American soil, descriptions and illustrations of the continent featured the pumpkin as a symbol of the land’s natural bounty and primitive way of life.

But pumpkins did not become part of Hallowe’en in America until the mid-19th century when the Irish came to across the Atlantic to escape the potato famine.

The legend of the jack-o’-lantern can be traced back to the tale of a drunken Irish farmer, whose fraternising with the devil led to his soul becoming lost, so Jack made a lantern from a turnip and coal to guide it.

Every Hallowe’en, the Irish would carve their own turnips to scare him away.

And when Irish settlers arrived in America they swapped the carved turnip for the plentiful pumpkin creating creating an annual tradition in households across the world.