Widecombe Group History Talks
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Devons Amazing Hedges by Dr Robert Wolton
Devon is one of the best counties and Widecombe is one of the best parishes for hedges. A hedge can be an earth bank with trees or shrubs planted on top. Most ancient hedges were made before 1750. Bronze age reaves on Dartmoor were formed 3500yrs BP, Iron age field patterns 2500BP and Anglo Saxon field strips 1000 yrs BP with evidence of them to be seen at Boscastle and fossilized strips at Sheepwash. Medieval enclosures were made 600 yrs ago. Very narrow strips were called Lepors and used by Lepers.
A complete hedge consists of a bank with shrubs and trees, a ditch and a margin. Their use apart from containing stock is to purify water, conserve water and help reduce flooding. 38% of all hedges at present are in poor condition due to overcutting, neglect and building. More care is needed to restore banks, lay and coppice, improve cutting management, and plant more trees on hedges. Flail trimming is good for a hedge if done correctly.
Wild life is in abundance in a hedge, brown hairstreak butterflies, cirl buntings, dormice, greater horseshoe bats, bees and bumblebees to name but a few species. There are 92 varieties of hover flies helping to pollinate the vast number of wild flowers within a hedge. Hogweed is especially good for all flies. Lichen thrives on trees in damp areas and ivy is great for food and shelter for birds and little creatures.
To find out more go to http://www.devonhedges.org
The information on this page was last modified on February 11 2017 18:25:54.