From the Scots pine windbreaks of the Brecklands to the ancient earth and stone banks of the West Country, the hedgerow is an essential component of regional landscape character. In a rural landscape dominated by enclosure, a working knowledge of hedges is an essential part of every landscape historian's toolkit; yet we understand them less well than we do other features in the landscape. This important book addresses this problem.
The authors ask why hedgerows vary across different parts of Britain, and investigate the ecological, economic and historical reasons for these variations. Drawing upon a unique computerised analysis of hedges in Norfolk, they explore how hedges came into existence, and how they have changed over time. They move beyond the myth that a hedge can be dated simply by counting species, and develop instead a much more sophisticated account of hedgerow history. They point out marked geographic variations in species content and diversity, and explore the reasons for these differences. By exploring the nature of hedges at the regional level - and by employing an innovative mix of ecological, archaeological and historical investigative techniques - this book's analysis has important implications for landscape history across the whole of Britain.
Hedges and enclosure; The Hooper hypothesis; The context of Norfolk hedges; Hedges: character, age and environment; Hedges and regional character; Conclusions
Dr Gerry Barnes is Environment Manager, Operations, Norfolk County Council. Dr Tom Williamson is Lecturer in Landscape History at the University of East Anglia.