Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology

2014 Edition
| Editors: Claire Smith

Hedges in Historical Archaeology

  • Tom Williamson
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-0465-2_1373

Brief Definition of the Topic

Hedges are field boundaries composed of lines of managed shrubs, often growing on a bank and accompanied by a ditch. They are found throughout Britain, and in many parts of lowland Europe including central and western France, the southern Low Countries, and parts of Germany. To serve their primary function, as stock-proof barriers, hedges need to be maintained or else they will develop into a line of disconnected trees and shrubs. In some areas they were, in English parlance, layed or plashed: the hedge was cut back rigorously but some of the principal stems were allowed to remain, cut roughly three quarters of the way through and bent downward at an angle of 60° or more so that each “pleacher” (as they were usually termed) overlapped its neighbor. In the spring, when growth resumed, a thick, impenetrable wall of vegetation was created. Elsewhere hedges were simply coppiced, like the understorey in traditionally managed woods: that is, their constituent...

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Further Reading

  1. Barnes, G. & T. Williamson. 2006. Hedgerow history: ecology, history and landscape character. Macclesfield: Windgather Press.Google Scholar
  2. Paillet, A. 2005. Archaeologie de l’agriculture moderne. Paris: Errance.Google Scholar
  3. Pollard, E., M. D. Hooper & N. W. Moore. 1974. H edges. London: Collins.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of HistoryUniversity of East AngliaNorwichUK