Hedgerow dating

Aerial photograph of hedged fields around BrillHedgerow dating is simple technique that can give a rough idea of the date of a hedge. All you need to do is pick a 30-metre section of a hedgerow and count how many different species of bush or tree are in it. Each species counts for a century. So, if you find three species in the hedge, it is 300 years old! 

Things to watch out for! 

  • Hedges that have been planted quite recently with several different species to start off with. Look at historic maps on the Unlocking Buckinghamshire’s Past website to check that the hedgerow is recorded on the earliest maps.
  • Some early hedges have also been known to contain only one species.
  • The technique is very unreliable beyond 1000 AD but attempts have been made to date hedgerows to the Roman period, around 1500 to 2000 years ago.

A hedgerow on Lodge Hill, SaundertonSome of the species you may see in Buckinghamshire are:

  • Hawthorn
  • Blackthorn
  • Hazel
  • Spindle
  • Oak
  • Holly
  • Elm

You can find examples of what these look like on the Science and Plants for Schools website.


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